#HBCUCLA triggers a debate

UCLA Black student population gather after graduation ceremony for a display of unity.
Photo courtesy Harold Grisby II

A simple tweet is all it takes to start a discussion, and that is exactly what happened on Aug. 25.

The tweet was simple and only had two words “#HBCUCLA Thread.” The tweet garnered 1.4k favorites, 322 retweets and 150 comments. The tweet was also reposted numerous times by various HBCU social media sources asking for thoughts and opinions.

Students resorted to everything from laughing it off to using offensive terms to describe the students who had chosen predominantly white institutions “porch monkeys.”

According to the ECMC Group, the percentage of black students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is 4.8 percent. However, the Black Bruins do have a rich history. This includes increasing enrollment of Black and Latino students in the late 1960s and rallying in protest of apartheid in the 1980s.

Many found using the term HBCU in the hashtag to be offensive. Some HBCU alumni took it to be insensitive to the struggle that HBCUs had to overcome.

Several students from UCLA took to Twitter to defend the hashtag, stating that the hashtag was just a catchy way of showing they carved out a space for black students.

This was dismissed by some HBCU students and alumni, saying it was nothing more than a Black student union.

To which several UCLA students said they would have liked to have gone to an HBCU but did not have the funds to do so. It was also pointed out that the West Coast does not have any undergraduate HBCUs.

As a student from the West Coast, I understand their feelings. Out of state fees tend to add up quickly and most students do not have the funds to live so far from family. Though I do think that the hashtag is insensitive to those that attend HBCUs, I think that resorting to tearing each other down over a title is just increasing the divide between black students who attend PWIs and HBCUs.

The real heroes in the conversation were students like @Anijahbby on twitter. Anijah took the conversation to direct messages for a one on one dialogue with a student from UCLA. Anijah attempted to understand through having a conversation and explain her viewpoint and allowing another student to articulate her feelings on the matter.

HBCU student takes initiative to start a conversation to gain understanding.
Photo courtesy @Anijahbby on twitter

As a community, one cannot exist without the other. Both students and alumni have to learn to be respectful of others’ opinions even when they oppose them, and do so in a respectful manner.