Being a very diverse campus with people of all ethnicities, religious backgrounds and sexual orientations, Sam Houston State University, like any college, has one thing that tends bring all these groups together—parties.
According to a survey conducted by the Houstonian, about 62 percent of students who participated said they would ‘party with another student of a different race or ethnicity’ despite admitting that they would not socialize with another student of a difference race in other settings.
College is a place where last-minute exam cramming, excessive coffee drinking, Thursday night bar-hopping and, of course, partying takes place. According to doctoral criminal justice student Sara Simmons, parties are a way of interacting with people of all differences.
“Parties are a good way of meeting people who you wouldn’t have come into contact with otherwise,” Simmons said. “For instance, people who have different majors than you or who you may not otherwise meet in your regular day-to-day activities.”
Junior criminal justice major Ileana Bola?os said she agrees with Simmons and that students have an incentive to socialize in a party environment.
“College kids love free food and alcohol and both of those things tend to be at parties,” Bola?os said. “It doesn’t matter what ethnicity or religion you may be, those two things [that] occur at parties bring everyone together.”
Sophomore music therapy major Jonathan Ferguson said he feels the party environment definitely opens doors to better understanding between groups.
“I feel like in this day and time, if people are brought to the same environment, especially in a party environment, then they’ll be accustomed to being around each other, being comfortable with each other,” Ferguson said. “I don’t expect to go to a party and see people of different ethnic groups not communicating because of their ethnicity.”
However, Ferguson also said he thinks people tend to have different attitudes towards other groups on campus than they do with those same people at a party.
“As far as being outside in open areas, if someone from an ethnic group sees someone else in another ethnic group, they may not be as open to wanting to greet that person,” he said. “But within the same party environment, especially in our age in this college environment, I feel like it would definitely be something that people would be open to being equal about and not shunning people from different ethnicities.”
At SHSU in particular, Ferguson said he does not necessarily see a lot of interracial partying.
“As far as our campus I haven’t seen a whole lot of it—I’ve been thinking of different big social groups like fraternities and sororities and a lot of them aren’t necessarily racially or ethnically segregated in the sense, nor are they trying to be,” Ferguson said. “But I don’t think they’d just attempt to party with other ethnic groups if they didn’t have to or if they didn’t want to. I don’t think it’s a big thing at our school to party with other ethnic groups.”
Becoming more exposed and accepting to people of all diversities, Ferguson said, could have lasting effects.
“The issue of equality that we’ve seen in our country would begin to solve itself because there are a lot of equality issues we’ve seen such as ethnic and homosexuality rights, but if people understood different ethnic groups better, that would be another step to increasing equality in the country as a whole because then you wouldn’t be scared or wonder why that ethnicity group dresses how they do or why they talk in different languages,” he said.
Ferguson said that the key to achieving true equality is gaining the will to learn, understand and communicate outside of the comfort zone.
“Maybe it’s just a lack of understanding that makes people not want to fully connect or integrate with other groups,” he said. “Greater understanding creates greater communication which creates an overall positive attitude in everyone as a whole country.”