Thom Shumosic is a University of Delaware graduate and financial adviser. Here, he wonders why Delaware has never had an African-American member of its dance team.
Jeff asked me if I’d like to be a guest on his blog. Like Jeff, I’m a Blue Hen (of a little older vintage), a lifelong sports fan and an observer of the human condition. Unlike Jeff, I spent 17 years coaching high school hoops in the state of Delaware, broadcasted the sport at the college level for a bunch of years and have been a financial adviser for 27 years. I’m married and have three kids, ranging in age from 17 to 29.
The Wilmington News-Journal recently ran an article about our alma mater. It seems Delaware has been criticized for having a not very diverse student body. Seems to be a pretty vanilla group of kids. And while there are a lot of potential reasons for this, the facts are the facts. I hope and pray there are wise folks in admissions and on campus who are diving into ways to make our great university more inclusive. But I’m bugged about one other fact about our university: We have fielded a University of Delaware Dance Team since 1986 and it has never had an African-American dancer. Um, what? This is, after all, the dance team that represents our university in dance team competitions and dances at men’s and women’s hoop games, as well as other events around campus.
I’ve thought long and hard about this. We do, after all, have 16,000 undergraduate students at Delaware. Seems that there are only one of two explanations for this: A. There is an atmosphere of exclusion, or B. Black girls can’t dance (Full disclosure: I am married to an African-American woman who cannot dance. But in my experiences at UD frat parties back in the day, and via my lifelong observations, she appears to be an exception, not the rule).
Neither of those reasons hold water in the year 2015.
Here’s a well-intended suggestion to folks who make decisions at the University of Delaware: You want to make our beloved college more inclusive? Let’s start with the groups on campus so that we can attract more diverse talent in all phases of student life. We’ll all benefit from that in the long-run.