Saturday, October 16, 2010

Diversity at WSU

My experience with diversity at WSU has been great. I really feel that my classes have offered me many opportunities to explore diverse topics. I have spent many semesters in the honors program and they have a tendency to go further than most gen ed classes will go as far as diversity is concerned. There seems to be a greater encouragement to explore ideas and cultures than I have experienced in any other classes. Many of the professors that I admire (not just in the honors program) have pushed me to question my epistime and really get to the root of my beliefs and challenge them when appropriate.

I spend quite a bit of time in the LEAP program (volunteering for social events, tutoring and conversation partnering) and I have gotten to know many people who would have otherwise, not crossed my path. It has been great to attend cultural celebrations with the LEAP program and learn about ideas and customs that I had never been exposed to. The only negative diversity experiences I can think of usually do not come from someone who I consider to be diverse on this campus. The worst example I can think of is when I had to explain to one of my friends from Saudi why Americans look at him as if they are afraid of him. That was a devastating conversation to have to such a kind person.

The only thing I think is necessary to have sustained, meaningful discourse about diversity is an open mind. I know this sounds simple but the first step to having an open mind is to acknowledge that you have to open it. That means acknowledging that it was closed to begin with. Many people struggle with this idea and don't want to admit that they have any prejudice or bias'. Once pride is moved out of the way, opening the mind is much easier. Being able to admit that one doesn't know everything is not that hard after all.

Just as we talk about addressing issues with papers and not the people who feel they are somehow represented by their papers, when dealing with someone who is diversity-challenged, we need to address the belief and not the person who holds the belief. In the writing center, we have such an amazingly diverse population that there is no way to avoid it. I, for one, am glad that it is unavoidable because each tutoring experience is a diversity lesson waiting to be learned. Papers hold diversity lessons and tutoring sessions hold diversity lessons, we just need to be open-minded enough to notice them when we get them.


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