Thursday, November 03, 2011

Well, I could be wrong, but I believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.

I would say that Weber is a fairly diverse campus – what I mean is, compared to most cities in Utah, there is a lot more ethnic diversity on campus. We have a number of foreign exchange and ESL students who attend school at WSU. The problem/issue I see with this is students from the “majority” might not know how to react/respond to people who are different.
Growing up in a predominately white, middle-class state, many students have had little interaction with diversity. They leave their white neighborhoods and show up on campus where many women walk around in burkas and other traditionally religious clothing. It can be a little surprising the first few times. Walking through the halls and hearing a group of people speaking a different language is a new experience for many students.
The hard thing is that it’s hard to realize that these “foreigners” feel the same way when they hear people speaking English, especially if they’re speaking fast, using slang, and/or have an accent.

I have conflicting views when it comes to the importance of diversity – or at least the acknowledgement of diversities.
I believe that learning how to interact with all different kinds of people is extremely important. Having a solid world-view (or understanding that there are many other cultures and beliefs in the world) is crucial become a well-rounded human.

The problem I have stems from the discussion we had yesterday with Adrienne about Diversity. In the survey she showed us, about ¼ of the students said they had been singled out because of gender, race, sexual preference, etc. They had felt some sort of discrimination for something that is beyond their control. HOWEVER, she also said the school is looking to do some research to try and justify a senate seat to represent the views of the LGBT society, because there is a senate seat for African American students, international students, etc. This is all fine and dandy, but I believe that while we should learn about and celebrate diversity in culture and belief systems, race/gender/sexual preference, etc. should be an irrelevant classification.
I feel like the whole discussion is basically “let’s put everyone into specific boxes that we think fit them best. Then, let’s give each box the same respect and treat each box equal.” This is really annoying to me. Why don’t we just not put them in boxes if the idea is to treat them equal. It seems like an unnecessary step to segregate people in my mind, then try and give each one the same attention. It is human nature to categorize. It is also human nature to give preference to one thing over another. However, I just don’t feel the need to categorize and judge. I try and just treat everyone equally. (I’m not perfect. I admit that I prejudge, but the difference is that I try hard not to act on those judgments and am willing to change them as I learn new information).

My experience with diversity was somewhat limited growing up. The only minorities I really had any experience with were Polynesians (one family in my neighborhood) and a few latinos who lived a few streets away. I was culture-shocked into being a minority when I moved to Brazil for a few years. There, I was really able to overcome a lot (if not most) of my prejudices. I grew to love the Brazilian people and was able to understand that I can something from everyone. And if I have things to learn, shouldn’t I try and learn them?


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