As I looked around our office in Knapp 108 on the Sunday before publishing our first issue of the 2013 academic year, I could not help but to feel very proud to witness such a diverse group of intelligent individuals, in our editorial staff, working together to accomplish a common goal. Witnessing this made me reflect on my experiences being part of the so-called “minority” group on campus these past three years. It also sparked me to initiate a conversation about race and class, which are two topics that tend to make people feel uncomfortable, but nonetheless are two subjects that must be discussed.
I often overhear students complaining about the lack of racial diversity at Denison. In fact, I may be guilty about making such statements. I remember feeling very uncomfortable talking to white students my freshman year due to some of the racially discriminatory experiences some of my closest friends had experienced on campus.
However, as the years have passed I have realized that the issue is not necessarily race but more so socioeconomic class. Any given person closely observing the campus atmosphere will notice that there is an overwhelming amount of self-segregation by the student body due to socioeconomic class differences, which dilutes the educational benefits of racial diversity.
In Denison brochures we may see that we have students who are from all parts of the world but are most likely than not a part of the upper middle class. Although, in their own right they have individual experiences to share, we would also greatly benefit from students who areinternational students and also a part of the working class. Socioeconomic class diversity is necessary to be able to gain insight on unique perspectives to be able to foster the true learning environment that Denison seeks to create.
I would like to think that the glass is half full and that Denison is making positive strides to create a more diverse and inclusive student body. We have made progress, yet there is still much more work to be done. It is going to take not only administrators to seek out the diverse individuals to attend Denison, but it will also take the student body, faculty and staff to work as one to create a common bond.
As students we need to steer away from self-segregation. Yes, these issues are deeply rooted beyond The Hill, but we need to lead the way for change. There seems to be a false sense of community on campus. Perhaps there is a false sense of community because there are many sub-communities. We should strive to make campus a more welcoming community accepting of everyone. If we can’t agree on certain issues lets try to agree on the very thing that we all have in common, we are Denisonians.
Lets continue supporting one another with campus events as well as engage with people that we might initially believe we have nothing in common with. Go to a La Fuerza Latina, Black Student Union, Asian American Student Union, or a Students of Caribbean Ancestry meeting. These, like many of the multicultural organizations are open to the whole student body. Show up and learn more about the different cultures and who knows you might make new friends.