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.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I don't remember any specific experiences off the top of my head, but I have an general positive feeling - I haven't had any negative experiences. More and more now, I feel like my box is being opened up more and more as I continue my schooling here. I don't actually recall which of my classes was my "diversity" course. It was probably one that counted for two requirements. Here at the writing center I feel that probably had more experiences than I've had at one time. This is probably because I tend to just attend class and then go on with my little life without much thought about getting to know the members of my class. I suppose I just don't realize when people are different than me; perhaps I'm too busy. I wasn't really into, and am still not really into, social events outside those of my close friends and family. This happens because I just didn't feel I had the time. It's sad and lame, especially since my next point is that I think one way to have meaningful exposure to diversity is to be involved in social events. I'm not the best example of this. Huge crowds are not my thing most of the time. I prefer smaller groups or one-on-one. But even being this way, one can still be open-minded and have experiences with those different than them. I suppose that even though there are less experiences, those few can still be meaningful.

WSU--Diverse, but not in Hometown

My experience with diversity at WSU has been pretty broad. I associate with many people who would agree that we are more different than alike. My grad classes have not been ethnically diverse, but in terms of beliefs, customs, and stages of life they are. In terms of diversity, my experience with WSU is that diversity is encouraged, promoted, and extended as an opportunity. I am comparing this with my undergrad experience at BYU which was ultimately, not very diverse. Most people are of the same religion and despite the fact that many were from out of the country and most were out of state, having the same religious beliefs made us more alike than different. Unlike WSU, BYU students were mostly in their early twenties and late teens. WSU serves a variety of ages. The way in which I find WSU not as diverse as BYU is that most are from around this area. Here at Weber, people often ask what high school you went to. At BYU, most were from out of state and that question was rarely asked. There were differences at BYU in state customs etc. but that common religious belief made people feel more alike than different. Also, at BYU most did very well in school. The average ACT was a 28. At Weber, some excelled in high school, while some did very poorly. Although there are more people from the same area at Weber, I have felt that diversity is more wide here because beliefs, cultures, age, academic success etc. vary so much here.

As employees of the writing center, we need to understand that we serve everyone on campus and that we will serve people who are different in language, gender, ethnicity, cultural customs, religion, or social economic class than we are familiar with. Tutoring English 955, I see a diverse array of students. Many are coming back to school for the first time in twenty years. Some never graduated high school. Many have been working with hands on jobs for many years. Some have never read a book. We need to be accepting of people who are different than us. As we read writing which often explores sides we do not agree with, we should look at what they say with an open mind and remember that everyone is different. Tutoring at WSU has helped open my eyes to how diverse this campus really is and has helped me embrace diversity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Late Prompt!

I thought our discussion of diversity today was really, really good. This week, I give you a belated two questions to consider:

1) What has your experience of "diversity" at WSU been? You can consider this as broadly as you like (e.g. classes or personal experience on campus). Has it been generally positive? What do you think is required for people to have sustained, meaningful discourse about diversity?

2) What does all of this have to do with the Writing Center and with tutoring? How can you connect our discussion of diversity to your experience there?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weren't Taught Much, and the Little We Were Told I Forgot About

I wish I had more to say on this one, but I really don't remember any of the citation myths I may have been taught. The only thing I can say is that it never was given any significant amount of attention in grade school and high school. We were taught, from a young age, to be scrupulous about quoting our sources properly in the text so as to avoid plagiarism. Especially in St. Joe's High, we took the time to discuss at length the unethical nature of plagiarism. However, I never knew there was so much to citation until college, and especially until this semester; and so many schools of thought as well as very specific rules. I find that it makes good sense for each system to be so strict and formal, though, and it's something that I appreciate.