Thursday, November 15, 2012

Respecting Wishes

In regards to the tutoring center accommodating a foreign student's discomfort, I find that I am quite torn. There is a part of me that thinks the center making an exception for these student's is simply enabling prejudice. I feel like there is something morally wrong with us allowing a student to be racist, sexist etc... Yet at the same time, I really believe in the concept that the writing center should be a safe place for learning. Forcing a student to be in a situation where they are uncomfortable goes completely against that idea.

Dr. Rogers example of a southerner studying abroad who is opposed to being tutored by a black tutor really trips me up.I think that in my mind I place racism and sexism on different levels of offensiveness, so I look at this situation based purely on my belief that no racism should be tolerated. I am not saying that I am fine with people being sexist, I am just pointing out that I think racism is far more ugly. I would really hope that a writing center in another country would not allow the southern student to be so openly prejudiced towards the black tutor. If this situation took place in our writing center, I personally would not feel good about us allowing the student to turn down a session with a black tutor. If I had any say in the situation, I would  politely tell the student that the tutor was perfectly qualified to help them and then allow them to make the choice to either be tutored by the black tutor or to leave and maybe come back another time.

I find it interesting that the only times I have felt slightly discriminated against because I was a woman the tutee was not a foreign student. I have always felt respected by the Arabic/Saudi students that I have tutored, and in fact I think they are among the most gracious visitors to the writing center. That being said, if a foreign student came in and refused to be tutored by one of our female tutors, I ultimately think that I would let them wait until a male tutor is available. Like Aisley and Amanda have brought up, a session with someone who doesn't respect or feel comfortable with you is not going to be very productive. Students and tutors alike deserve to feel at ease when they are on campus. If a student felt uncomfortable with me, chances are I would feel very uncomfortable as well. As much as I would like to stand up against discrimination and bias, I have concluded that the writing center is not the right avenue for me to do that. While I am on the clock I am representing the university, and I think that WSU promotes the safe learning environment I mentioned earlier. I hope to have an opportunity someday outside of my job where I can make a difference and voice my opinions on judging people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. but until that time I will respect the wishes of foreign tutees who feel uncomfortable working with women.


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