Inside Look is undoubtedly a permanent fixture among the minority community on campus. The planning and execution of this event is one that is cherished and coveted at times when the ALANA students are able to work together to produce an instantly gratifying outcome. With this being my first time participating, I found the enthusiasm and excitement intoxicating and contagious throughout the minority community, students and faculty alike.
Inside Look is a unique orientation program in the sense that it caters to ALANA and minority students. With this in mind, it is quite obvious in whatever limited time one spends on campus as a prospective student that the experience will pale in comparison to the experience of a full-time student. It can cause a problem for participants’ perception, including that of Tiffany Cheng, who stated in The Ithacan’s April 15 issue that this type of environment did not create a holistic reality of “what exactly goes on every day for ALANA students.”
I am then left to ponder whether this misrepresentation is any more misleading than the other tours and programs for prospective students. In my mind, the answer is no. When tour guides lead groups of 10 to 15 students around the Campus Center, we can all hear them recite, “This is the Campus Center Dining Hall, one of three dining halls on campus.” Initially, this sounds like variety and endless opportunities for meal options and combinations, but after a semester on campus, there are many who desire more options.
This is not a misrepresentation, but it is facts through which only experience can poke holes. I say this to articulate the fact that all orientations, regardless of targeted groups, are used to highlight the positives and give reasons why an individual would want to come to Ithaca College. Thus, it is the responsibility of the individual to weigh different aspects, investigate and ask in order to assess the value he or she would personally assign to any given aspect of campus life.
This is the same case for Inside Look. By no means is the number of minority students altered or skewed for this event, but only an experience of the ALANA community can reflect the group with complete accuracy. Though this program may not be an “accurate” representation of a school day in terms of workload and daily responsibility, it provides an opportunity to see the existence of diversity and the presence of minority students on campus. The impact and capabilities of current ALANA students and administration is also on showcase, thus showing potential students the valued and esteemed community that exists.
My personal opinion of this issue does not prevent me from understanding those who are led astray. To this issue, I can only stress the invaluable responsibility of hosts, current ALANA students and faculty members to speak openly with prospective students about their experiences to ensure that there will be no miscommunication. To engage prospective ALANA students in conversation that reflects personal experience and to help find them potential hosts with the same majors, hometowns or interests will allow these prospective students a more complete depiction of what everyday life is like.
Though each individual, minority or not, will have a personal and unique experience, the value of wisdom offered by conversations and interactions, both structured and informal, between ALANA students is irreplaceable, and that in itself is the irreplaceable value of the Inside Look program.
Aja Houpe is a sophomore anthropology major. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.