From her seat behind the Candy Counter at Kilcawley Center, junior Amanda Yeager watches much of the daily action that occurs in the bustling center of student activity.
Located across the way from the Candy Counter is the Lariccia International Student Lounge, a study lounge that is often filled.
However, Yeager said she often notices what many other students and professors also seem to see happening in the lounge: racial self-segregation.
Steve Ellyson, a psychology professor, said he has noticed the self- segregation in Kilcawley Center but said he would not go so far as to call it racism.
“It’s human nature to be comfortable with what is most familiar,” he said.
Youngstown State University is a diverse university with many different races and ethnicities making up YSU’s total enrollment of 12,396 students. Many say despite the university’s ethnic makeup, most students are seen with people of their own race.
Senior Jairus Ford has been at YSU for about four years and said he has rarely seen the different races join together. He said the separation is apparent when looking in the International Study Lounge in Kilcawley; black students frequent the lounge while white students are hardly seen.
“It’s sad to see it that way, but that’s the way it is,” Ford said.
The senior said he noticed as more and more people come to YSU, they become a part of what already exists instead of attempting to go outside of their comfort zone. Being diverse is important but not at the cost of breaking out of common ground, Ford said.
Yeager agreed with Ford, and said she believes much of self-segregation occurs because students enjoy “hanging out with people from their high school.”
“But it can be a good thing if you have a fear of meeting people,” Yeager added.
A place where students say self-segregation cannot be missed is at the Marketplace in Kilcawley. Yeager said when she walks into the dining room, she very rarely sees interaction between different races and ethnicities.
Ford said people are accustomed to their own cultures and does not think students will collaborate as one in the near future.
Ellyson said YSU has many culturally diverse people and it would be ideal for everyone to expand their horizons, but it is hard for many to do that. He said he has seen some students take up to four years to begin meeting people of other ethnicities.
Graduate student Ty-Juan Young agreed and added coming together as a whole is not something that can happen right away.
“Trying to make small steps is something we can do,” Young said, adding that there a number of stereotypes that exist on campus that he believes may make it more difficult for students to come together.
Junior Cristina Horkey said she believes that to avoid the stereotypes Young spoke of, there needs to be more interaction among the university’s different cultures, religions and ethnicities. Horkey added if people understood each other’s backgrounds better there would not be as much self-segregation as there is now.
“I have friends in a lot of different groups and they do not intermingle,” she said.
Horkey said she agrees with Ellyson’s theory that people are comfortable with people that speak the same language, have the same background and share a common religion.
Ellyson said he thinks society has opened up a little bit in the last 50 years or so. Differences are important and useful to grow as a person, he said, and he hopes eventually people will be color-blind.