Monday, November 12, 2012

To -Ism, or Not to -Ism

On the one hand, the answer is that we don’t accommodate students exhibiting sexism. If I, as a tutor, refused to take a session because the tutee was female, black, homosexual, Muslim, etc, I would be severely reprimanded (if I even still had a job at that point. I’m honestly not sure since I can’t find it in the manual and didn’t stress because I don’t plan on refusing anyone). Thus, why should the tutee be able to discriminate when the peer tutors can’t? It unbalances the relationship we strive to maintain with the students on the basis of equality. How can the power be even if one side can refuse the other on the basis of an -ism generally considered rather offensive? As a student tutor, don’t I have “the right to be respected and treated as an equal” as stated in the Student Bill of Rights?

Yet on the other hand, the National Association of Tutorial Services Tutor Code of Ethics states that “I will not impose my personal value system or lifestyle on my student” nor will I “use a tutoring session to proselytize my personal belief system.” We’re also expected to act “for the benefit and welfare of students” while “avoid[ing] issues” of “conflict of interest [and] bias” that “could jeopardize this helping stance” according to the Writing Center Ethics Discussion.

So, the answer seems very much split. As human beings, we should not have to put up with anyone discriminating against us for any reason. As tutors, it seems that we are expected to be accommodating and set aside personal belief in the interests of helping the tutee. Personally, I’m not really bothered by this type of discrimination being directed towards me. If someone doesn’t want to work with me because I’m male, or white, or Mormon, I’d rather go and help someone who does want my help.

This is also difficult for me to take a stand on because one of my “cultural values” states that homosexual people should not be allowed to be married in an LDS Temple. I have no problem with, and in fact support, the right of any adult couple in a consensual relationship to have that relationship recognized by the government, but I worry that legalizing gay marriage might eventually lead to a confrontation between the LGBT community and LDS Church leaders even worse than the one following Prop 8. How can I expect to hold onto what could be considered a special case of bigotry while denying someone else their cultural value of being tutor by a man instead of a woman?

It would be nice if we could all live according to our beliefs in a sort of isolation, but the world isn’t that neat or simple. Cultures are going to clash whenever and where ever they connect. The Writing Center does not have the time and resources to fight against every -ism, not when there are other students waiting and willing to meet with the first available tutor. Let the bigots sit and sulk on our comfortable couch.


Blogger Kimberly Clark said...

ha ha. For the most part, I agree:)

3:49 PM  

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