Good changes

Many visiting black alumni are pleased with increased diversity on campus

Ferris alumnus Sylvester Hester speaks at the Black Alumni Association dinner on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Some of the alumni in attendance graduated as early as 1974. Photo by : Will Holden I Torch Photographer

Black alumni spanning decades of Ferris’ past gathered and reminisced about their time as students during homecoming weekend.

Ferris alumnus Charley Evan said a lot has changed, including much more diversity since he was a freshman in 1974, just a few years after racially charged riots took place on the campus.

“I came in ’74 and I had a cousin who was here in 1968 who was in the riot situation and he couldn’t believe I was going to Ferris—at that time it was still Ferris College,” Evans said. “I had an opportunity to go to high school with whites, so it was an easier adjustment for me, but it was such a culture shock for me when I got here because it was so dominated with white students. We had some situations that were not good, but we weathered through it.”

The visiting alumni gathered Friday, Sept. 28, at the Office of Multicultural Student Services before attending a variety of events over the weekend. As they arrived, the alumni reconnected with former classmates with greetings, smiles and handshakes, some of whose Ferris careers span back four decades. This year’s homecoming trip was the first for some of the attendees, some of which expressed admiration and nostalgia.

“The ratio of people and ethnicity is varied and different and it’s good. It’s wonderful to see more African-American students here, and minorities in general. My experience at Ferris was very different. We used to joke and say there were only 30 black people here,” Ferris alumna and Ferris Black Alumni Association chair Jennifer Wheeler said.

As for the events planned for Black Alumni Association, a trip through the Jim Crow museum, a tailgate before the football game, a party and a dinner were just a few of the events scheduled for the group.

“The beauty of homecoming, and one of the important roles of the alumni association is to reach back and get in contact with alumni to better connect them to the institution … and giving those alumni an opportunity to come back and reconnect with the institution,” Director of Multicultural Students Services Matthew Chaney said.

Ferris Alumni enjoy dinner put on by the university for homecoming on Saturday, Sept. 29. Other activities put on included a trip to the Jim Crow museum the day before Photo by : Will Holden I Torch Photographer