Inside Elmhurst University’s Admissions Office is a team of perky, young counselors, two of whom oversee the Student Ambassadors (SA) — the group of tour guides on campus.
The Student Ambassador group is made up of “model students” meant to be representatives of the school, all of whom were expected to work hard to apply and be interviewed for this highly competitive on-campus job.
As SA’s, we are responsible for creating content on the EU Admissions social media pages, such as Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. SA’s are also responsible for meeting with prospective and transfer students to give them full hour-long tours throughout the week, while also giving up their weekends throughout the month for sporadic events held by the Office of Admissions.
I was formerly a Student Ambassador until I was “voluntold” by my boss, to create a script for a Spanish version of a tour for prospective students.
I, along with only three other Student Ambassadors (who all happen to be Hispanic/Latinx) out of the 15+ we have, were given this directive without any explanation other than the admissions team “wanting to start up Spanish speaking tours like [they once did] in the past.”
As an attempt to be inclusive to Hispanic and Latin communities, the initiative seemed pertinently exclusive to those who wished to give Spanish speaking tours who were not Hispanic or Latinx. Student ambassadors of different ethnicities who expressed interest in giving Spanish speaking tours were left out of the email thread.
I really questioned their intent in starting these tours up again. While those who did express interest were bypassed because they didn’t necessarily fit the “look” admissions wanted for these tours, those who had not expressed initial interest to the person who sent the email out (including myself) were still given this demand.
If they weren’t trying to single out only the Hispanic and Latinx students, why wasn’t the email sent to everyone? Also, if they are trying to have more resources for that specific population on campus, why not start creating some for those who are already here and those who are admitted? Would that not fall under one of admissions’ social responsibilities?
Though EU is hoping for the title of “Hispanic Serving Institution,” they have a history of being a Hispanic “holding” institution — that is, an institution that has done the bare minimum for their ethnic/minority groups, specifically those of Hispanic and Latin backgrounds.
Providing resources for other students is almost entirely left up to students on campus. As president of the Latino student association, I have fought tirelessly for more resources for our Hispanic and Latinx population on campus to no avail.
With this heavy burden to provide for such a large population, I have written articles, submitted reports and feedback, spoken with members of the cabinet, attended meetings after meetings, been on committees for the selection of prominent campus positions, all for nothing.
This was not the first time I experienced feeling tokenized in my position as a Student Ambassador, and as a student here on campus.
Even on tours, as parents of other first-generation students have come in to see another first-gen student putting herself through a private college, thinking their child could have the same opportunities, there is a pit in my stomach knowing that this isn’t entirely the case at a university that still struggles with exclusivity.
All of this and more ultimately led me to withdraw from my position on the team, although I had the privilege of being selected and having a small role of recruiting students to the school.
I am thankful for most of the experience, but it no longer sat well with me to entice Hispanic and Latinx students to come to the school without having any real support for that particular group on campus. Being asked to give Spanish speaking tours, something I would have loved to do, ended up being the last straw.