By | Matthew Hable
Summer flew by and fall is in the air as we begin to acclimate back to school life. Returning students know the drill while new and transfer students need the time to adjust to unfamiliar environment. To those of us who have lived in the area for at least a semester, we eventually learn that there are significant problems behind the Redwood Curtain that are not deliberately addressed in the, “Why HSU?” package. Specifically issues that frequently occur outside of the university’s bubble.
Observable examples include the high rate of unsupported mental illness, lack of cultural diversity, drug abuse, bigotry and homelessness. Take a walk down Highway 101 near Old Town Eureka, and all of these misfortunes can probably be spotted in one day. Additionally, the recent unsolved murder of HSU student David Josiah Lawson magnified the racism that exists in our community. In fact, Lost Coast Outpost had to suspend their comment sections in the wake of Lawson’s death due to blatantly racist posts.
Meheen Ruby, a 25-year-old alumni, recalls the casual racism that she encountered during her time at the university.
“When I moved to Arcata to go to Humboldt State, I found myself in a mostly positive environment,” said Ruby. “However, I was not expecting some of the negatives of life here. I had a date tell me to my face, ‘People around here only want to date white girls,’ as if he was doing me a favor by showing interest in a brown girl.”
For obvious reasons, HSU will not reveal such issues in their efforts to recruit new students, but be advised that there is more than meets the eye. To be fair, there are local organizations that tackle these social issues, including the Homeless Student Advocate Alliance, one of several student-led clubs here at the university that help homeless students find housing. However, real social change requires persistence and participation, two qualities that are lacking in the face of apparent hardship.