Changing Diversity on Campus
Native American Student Panel Discusses Life at NDSU
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 12:11
A Native American student panel discussion addressed some major concerns of culture, influences on education and student life on campus as an event to honor Native American Heritage Month.
The panel consisted of Thomas Bluestone, president of the Native American Association on campus; Audra Stonefish, graduate student at NDSU; Derek Stonefish, brother of Audra Stonefish and graduate student at NDSU; and Iman Moore, student at NDSU.
They each commented on their life on campus since attending NDSU. The questions centered on tribal schools versus nontribal schools, student life and looking at the differences of culture on and off NDSU.
Tribal colleges and high schools are in many ways different than nontribal colleges and high schools.
“Attending a tribal college and then going to NDSU for graduate studies was a culture shock,” Audra Stonefish said. “Going to a tribal college has an atmosphere where everyone is tight knit.”
Native American students at NDSU may be feeling the same way. “Bigger schools are more diverse. There is less common ground with others,” she said.
NDSU has around 200 Native American students on campus. Bluestone would like to see that change.
“Native Americans have the highest dropout rate,” Bluestone said. “[We] have a responsibility to break that stigma by finishing school.”
Derek Stonefish offered new ideas to help freshmen have less of a culture shock when attending a new school of 15,000 plus students.
“We need to have a centralized place to meet, eat food, laugh and share struggles,” he said. “Children need to know we have seen the same things they have, let them know it can be overcome and it can be supported.”
Derek and Bluestone both suggest having a centralized place for Native American students to unify and identify together as a culture. “We need a way not to separate [from the rest of NDSU] but to support,” Derek said.
The panel discussed ideas of how to get students more involved right away to help them build healthier relationships and better their chances of finishing school.
“Instead of sending emails to get people to come, we need to know where people are at,” Audra said.
Derek added, “[We need to] ease into diversification. The boundaries need to be eased out of and eased into diversification on campus.”
One audience member asked what NDSU students could be doing to help Native American freshmen coming in.
Moore replied, “Just be friendly. Invite them out for coffee. People just need a friend. We love good food and humor. We don’t’ want to cut others out, we just need to see a home away from home,” said Moore.
Bluestone quoted President Barack Obama, saying, “We are moving forward. Keeping it progressive.”
November is Native American Heritage Month. For more information on events NDSU has scheduled to celebrate the Native American culture, visit www.ndsu.edu/multicultural or www.ndsu.edu/news/view/article/15802.