i Diversity is Key | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Isabel Detienne

In a world that is ever-changing and culturally advancing every day, acceptance is key in order to establish a safe and encouraging environment for all. The importance of truly accepting the diversity and racial/ gender differences is one that is practiced by many. However, despite the strong movement towards a social unity, there are still many communities and settings across the US that exhibit poor empathy and respect for others. These areas are most commonly noted within colleges and universities, home to a wide variety of cultures, race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. These are the areas that should be drawing in the most focus, in efforts to override the negativity and disrespect.

Colleges across the country have recently been publicized due to segregation mindset, and their racist/ subject to diversity acts. Lewis and Clark College in Oregon is home to a community that is 95% white and consequently subject to extreme racism. Recently there had been a filling of extreme persecution against black individuals. As stated in the Campus Racial Incidents section of the Journal of Blacks of High Education, “A black student claims he was attacked by a group of three white men on campus. He was by the white men near the campus pool”. However this was not only racial slur noted at Lewis and Clark: “The attack on campus came days after several racist statements threating black students”. There were comments made on a confidential social media site that insisted that one should just hang the “ignorant” black people. These acts of racism are absolute absurd and would have never happened on a campus where equality is stressed just as much or more than other themes. Although this type of behavior is extremely present on small campuses across the US, it is also prevalent at one of the most well-known universities; Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It was noted in the same article as Oregon`s incidents that there has been persecution against women solely due to the color of their skin. Some female student`s claimed that they were not allowed to enter a party due to the fraternity`s “Whites Only” policy. The fact that an organization as active and well-known as a fraternity would blatantly discriminate is quite alarming. Not only does racist exist on “average” college campuses, but it also is strongly illustrated in one of the most well-known groups within the prestigious and academically advanced Universities. If the best of students are the ones who are engaging in this unacceptable behavior, how can we expect anything different from the rest of the collegian population?

Although there is a strong sense of persisting disrespect and hatred directed towards racially diverse communities found on a college campus, there is also strict behavior aimed at eliminating this unequal playing field. The student`s at MU disagreed with the various racist happenings so much that they decided to act upon it. According to Emma Vandeliner`s article, there have been extreme efforts to override the racist nature found on their campus. All individuals were required to take mandatory online diversity training, but it didn’t stop there. The students took measures into their own hands to make sure that their president would quickly and efficiently eliminate every ounce of racist acts, or at least inform strict rules against them. Because the president, Tim Wolfe was failing to accomplish this, students began to act towards replacing him all together. As student Jonathon Butler stated: ““During this hunger strike, I will not consume any food or nutritional sustenance at the expense of my health until either Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost”. Butler is a prime example of one going to extreme measures to see that racism will not be tolerated. It is clear that in order for these students to be so upset, there must be an extreme sense of discrimination taking place. However, despite their semi-inappropriate severity towards ending the acts, they are still doing something to put an end to the injustice. The first step in overcoming a problem, is acknowledging the problem. MU has been very proactive in this sense but still lacks a racially accepting foundation.

One college that strives to create and maintain this type of foundation is St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. St. Norbert (SNC) has many programs and organizations set in place in efforts to create a level playing ground for all students and faculty. They have an entire building donated towards overcoming segregation in every sense, specifically in the area of women and gender inequity. The Cassandra Voss Center is home to many students who believe in spreading the word of acceptance and love across the campus. SNC actively works towards creating social justice throughout the community. In efforts of doing so, they encourage all, and reward one student and one faculty member each year for creating, “A more just, equitable environment, for more of our members, fulfilling the vision of the Rev. Dr.Martin King Jr`s Beloved Community” (http://www.snc.edu/norbertineawards/beloved/). St. Norbert also houses an office that works to uphold the diversity values they hold. This office is called the Multicultural Student Services, which puts on endless events, cultural celebrations, parties, dinners and invites endless speakers to come and spread the word of one love, social justice, and a sense of community. St. Norbert College is most known for its mission statement and overall wholesome theme of “Communio”. While a journey towards complete social, gender, race, ethnic, and cultural equality may never be done, SNC is a leader in stratification.

Diversity is something that has been ever growing over the past century and isn’t predicted to stop any time soon. Instead of bashing on the differences amongst others, and creating segregation and racial attitudes, colleges should be striving to achieve equality on all levels. Many colleges along with St. Norbert have successfully established a well orientated set of programs that act in this manner. Acceptance in every sense of the word is required in order for everyone to feel comfortable and safe in a college setting. This is why every college across the nation should be required to continuously fight the hatred against diversity, and instead appreciate the wide range of ideas and mindsets offered by the students. To live mindfully is to live with full awareness and acceptance of those around you. To live mindfully is the key to overcoming one of the world`s more persistent problems, lack of acceptance of diversity.

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