Despite its well-documented history of racial problems, both Rocky Horn and Krystal Scott have found St. Cloud State University to be a good place where their academic and athletic pursuits successfully could be met.
Horn, a senior from Melrose, MN, is a member of the SCSU football team. Also a senior, Scott is a member of the school’s women’s basketball team — she is from Rosemount, MN, a Twin Cities suburb.
“I’m from a really small town and wasn’t really used to class sizes as big as they are [nor had I] gotten used to not knowing anyone I see walking the streets, walking in the hallways or in the classroom,” admits Horn, who joined the team as a non-scholarship player and was red shirted his freshman year. “The first time I stepped on campus, I felt welcomed. I had 100 friends right away.”
“Basketball brought me here, but at the same time, I thought it was a good campus because it was close to home, and it was a campus that wasn’t too big or too small,” Scott recalls. “From the people I talked to, the professors seemed like pretty good professors. They were going to focus on me learning in my subject area, and making me successful out there.”
The coaches then also impressed her, she added. “Maybe they told me what I wanted to hear,” Scott continues, “but for the most part, they were telling me the truth about what the campus was going to bring me.”
Both Scott and Horn are acutely aware of SCSU’s past problems when it comes to Blacks and students of color. Horn says that some have felt discriminated against and “not fully represented” but also some have “burned bridges” on campus as well.
“I have heard a lot of those stories,” he says. “When I hear stuff like that, I want to make sure that every student-athlete here has a good experience. [However] there are politics, and if you are not ‘in,’ sometimes you get the short end of the stick. There are some student-athletes who haven’t had a completely perfect college life. That is not right, but that’s life.”
According to Scott, “I’ve heard about some things that have happened, and the [affected] person feels like that they have been discriminated [against]… but [I was] sort of surprised. I know that it goes around, but I never been in direct contact with it.
“I haven’t heard of any female student of color [being discriminated against] — there may be, but…I [haven’t] run into it,” she notes.
Both students of color are on track to graduate. They also are student leaders: Horn is president and Scott is vice president of the St. Cloud State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).
“I was asked by my coach if I wanted to be involved as a freshman,” says Scott. “When I got involved, I wasn’t really sure what it really was all about. [However], I thought it would be a great opportunity to get my name out there and to get involved with the community. I was a secretary my junior year, and this year I’m the vice president.”
Adds Horn, “Our three main functions are: 1) Being an advocate for student athletes and making sure that their voices are heard; 2) We go through legislation and by-laws as they pertain to Division II athletes; and 3) Community service work and community engagement. We try to reach out to the community and present a positive image of St. Cloud State University student-athletes.”
Horn also is a member of the NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and participates in the NCAA Leadership Academies.
Being involved in such activities has helped him mature, he believes. “Just being a student-athlete here on campus, you are able to mature as an individual because you are always in the public eye and always have to make sure that you know what you are doing — making sure that you [are] doing the right thing.”
A member of the SCSU athlete honor roll, as well as being named Multi-Cultural Student Services Student-Athlete of the Year in 2005-’06, Scott is a physical education major with a minor in adaptive physical education. She plans to graduate in spring 2010.
“I [am] anticipating graduating this fall,” notes Horn. “I am going to school for social work, with a minor in psychology and ethnic studies. I am doing what I love, play[ing] football, and will get my degree. I’ve sort of lived a picture-perfect NCAA college life.”
The young man said that he eventually would like to work with college student-athletes, helping them reach their “after life — their days after being a student-athlete, getting into a career, getting into the real world,” and understanding that “there are things that [are] going to happen to [them] outside of school that aren’t perfect, but try to help them get the necessities and tools to survive in the real world.”
Finally, both soon-to-be-SCSU graduates say they’d recommend the school to Black student-athletes as well as other students of color.
“Negativity and discrimination [are] found on every campus, not just on this one,” Scott points out. “They should mainly focus on coming here and doing what they need to do to get their education and not be involved or worry about being targeted.”
“What I would say to them is [that] St. Cloud State is a growing, maturing university,” concludes Horn. “Even though the minority percentages are around eight to 12 percent, you can be a young leader standing up for your culture, the color of your skin and ethnicity. [SCSU] makes sure that you get your degree. We make sure that you have the tools and necessities to get that degree.
“I don’t try to sell St. Cloud State — I try to sell where you fit in.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.