Experiences of students varied

by Abby Person and Victoria Ravin

The student bodies of the College and the Conservatory differ in many ways and racial diversity is only one. Most musicians begin their studies in the Conservatory with a clear idea in mind of a future career, as well as a significant level of skill that they have developed before coming here. They have come to the Conservatory to perfect their talents by studying with high caliber professors. For better or worse, these differences contribute to student body diversity. According to some Conservatory students, diversity in the Conservatory is difficult to see. Many students believe the number of faculty of color is unfortunately low but the number of musicians of color is a fair amount.

"I wish more were done with recruiting of minority students. I don't think they do enough," Conservatory junior Limmie Pulliam said.

Pulliam is currently working on a campaign with Conservatory admissions to recruit minorities. He said that among the plans are a phone-a-thon and pamphlets.

Conservatory sophomore Michael Preacely is also involved in phoning prospective students for the admissions program.

"I don't think students of color are auditioning. We are slowly trying to make students know about Oberlin," he said. "Steps are being taken to increase the diversity of Oberlin College Conservatory."

"The more we work toward making Oberlin known to people of color, then diversity will come."

"You have to take from every single culture to make the word diversity complete," Preacely said.

He said the admissions office needs input and feedback from students about their opinions on the process. "In working with the office of admissions, I've noticed within it how much they want to diversify the College and the Conservatory," Preacely said.

"Among the groups that I know a majority of the professors are white. It'd be nice to see more diversity," Double degree sophomore Jung Lee said. She added that qualifications are of the most importance.

Conservatory senior Rebecca Garcia feels believes that there is not enough diversity among the students.

"The percent of Latino students in the Conservatory is just ridiculous," she said.

She said that, often coming from situations of low-income, many minorities drop out because they are unable to afford the cost.

Garcia thinks that the Conservatory needs to direct its efforts toward retention, "in keeping the people of color that we do have."

She said that other students provide much of the support for minority students within the Conservatory and that, more or less, the faculty is supportive, as well. However, she indicated that support is not really an issue; instead, the primary focus is on musical development.

"Over 95 percent of my family's in Mexico and I feel comfortable [as a minority in the Conservatory]," said Waldo Gonzalez, a Double-degree fifth year in history and voice.

The relative comfort Gonzalez felt was echoed by Preacely. "I personally have not had negative experiences with faculty, but I know people who have," he said.

"When I came here, I came to study opera and that's what I do," Preacely said.

But to the question of whether the Conservatory student body was diverse or not, Preacely replied with a curt, "No."

"There are a lot of Asian students and there are not enough Latino or Afrikana students," Preacely said.

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Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 11, December 5, 1997

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