Continual push for improvement has always been a standard at Concordia. The dawn of a new age has shaped a campus that has a foundation of tradition yet sparkles with modern buildings and policies. Cobbers that graduated even ten years ago say that a lot has seemingly changed around Cobberville, while the school remains an old friend. This is due to our full-steam-ahead work ethic, which is great but leaves many cracks beneath the surface of our campus’ composure.
One issue that appears spotless from outside but is sticky beneath the surface is the housing situation. All Concordia students are aware of the two-year requirement of living on campus in order to foster community and perspective. This growing experience ends up reaffirming pre-existing narratives for students and delays any sort of diverse interaction. The campus’ pride and joy of sustainability is embodied in the EcoHouse, a small red brick house that is limited to four students. The progressive addition of the gender-inclusive floor is being expanded into two, but is still isolated in Park Region Hall at the farthest end of campus. International students, typically bunched together on floors six and seven of freshman dorms are not only separated, but quite simply out-of-sight and out-of-mind from the rest of campus.
As a campus that advertises and strives for diversity and all things ‘BREW’, there is a wall blocking our progress, and that wall is housing segregation. Examples are endless. New students gravitate toward residence halls that are commonly known as the sports dorms or the fine arts ones, and are then sorted into subsets of personality profiles and potentially into major/minor or Credo qualifications. This housing dynamic undeniably creates community; I am not arguing that. But the safe space it fosters is one that sweeps adversity under the rug. Students who commit to the liberal arts are excited to see that Concordia bears a (self-proclaimed) stamp of diversity, only to be placed on a floor where everyone looks like them, has pastimes like them, shares the same beliefs as them and sometimes has the same exact educational path as them. Acclimating to college can be hard, and having others like you to turn to or call upon is not an invalid wish. However, the living segregation has negative long-term effects that outweigh the need for uniformity. It is also wrong because we are a college that claims to educate on diverse mindsets from numerous perspectives. In most cases, comfort leads to laziness, and new students don’t look past daily interactions with those that are like them. This translates for upperclassmen into designated sports houses, theatre houses, choir houses, and groups upon groups of isolated cultural interactions.
Many students feel the effects of this flaw and describe Concordia as a second high school, where they are stuck with the friends they acquire on day one. One solution to this issue would be to step out of your comfort zone and into extracurriculars with people you do not already know. Only then will you see the ripple effects of diversity in your life. Rewriting the segregated culture that the dorms engrain is an uphill battle. Currently, it is being responded to in short bursts like the incorporation of another gender inclusive floor, but without large-scale change the tradition of Concordia’s social segregation will continue to manifest long term. If roommates and floormates were still randomly assigned with the goal of diversifying their experiences, imagine the positive effects our campus would see and feel in fighting our current social, political and racial segregation.