Thursday, December 13, 2012

Teach Respect by Showing Respect

Prompt 11/03/2012 (Week 11):

I would really like to continue the discussion that we grappled with a bit on
Wednesday. Two of you pointed out that there is an inconsistency in the way we treat
international students' expectations of women and the way we might treat sexism or

I keep thinking about this in terms of the South. Would a Southerner from the
segregated South studying abroad in, say, England, have had his discomfort being
tutored by a black student accommodated? Respected? Is respecting a foreign student's
discomfort being tutored by a woman any different? Where do we draw the line in
respecting cultural values and morals?

I think that the best way to approach this is to remember to treat everyone with love and respect, no matter what. It’s not in our control to force others to see things our way. We are going to meet sexist or racist people who are going to say sexist and racist things. We don’t have to laugh or encourage that behavior. We don’t have to tolerate the behavior or promote it in any way. But we still need to love and respect the individual.

When I think about the times where I have experienced the most growth, it was with people who I felt I could trust and look up to. I feel that it is our duty to provide an environment where students can grow in a positive direction. If a foreign student with sexist opinions sees how we treat the women in our workplace with respect and honor, then we set a good example for them to follow. They will be watching, paying attention, looking at the way our society is different than the one back home. It’s our job to be good role models.

It’s not our job to make sure that each racist, bigot, and sexist has a healthy dose of perspective by the time they leave the writing center. Chances are that they are too embarrassed about their grievous misuse of the innocent comma to talk about their views on women’s rights. Bringing up sensitive subjects with someone who already feels defensive is a bad idea. Again, the best strategy is to lead by example. You can show respect to any individual without endangering your own self respect. I feel that any other strategy is going to result in a less inviting and professional environment at Weber State.


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