Diversity and Civility: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
- Diversity on campus is beneficial for all students, not just those from ethnic or minority groups. The wider perspectives of students from different backgrounds and the greater variety of teaching methods help everyone gain more fully in educational experiences. Students develop a more mature worldview and are better prepared for interacting with a diverse world in the future.
- Multiculturalism involves an attitude of respect for the ideas, feelings, behaviors, and experiences of others who differ from oneself in any way. Colleges promote both diversity in the student body and multiculturalism among all students.
- To gain a multicultural perspective, challenge your own learned stereotypes while you discover more about other cultural groups. Understanding what can be learned from others leads to celebrating the diversity found on most campuses.
- Take personal responsibility both for broadening your own social world and for speaking out against prejudice and discrimination wherever encountered.
- Take advantage of campus opportunities to increase your cultural awareness and to form social relationships with diverse others. Organized campus groups and events can help you broaden your horizons in many beneficial ways.
- Participation in campus clubs and other organizations is not only fun and a good way to reduce stress but also helps develop social, intellectual, and technical skills that may serve you well in your future career or other endeavors.
1. Imagine this scenario: eight white college students between the ages of eighteen and twenty from a large U.S. city are spending a summer in a poverty-stricken rural Indonesian village in a volunteer project. Describe several behavioral characteristics of these students as an ethnic minority group that may not be understood by the villagers.
2. Imagine yourself working in your chosen career five years from now. Describe two experiences you may have in that career for which your current experience with diverse people on campus may help prepare you.
3. What insights into your own attitudes, behaviors, or values have you gained through interactions with others different from yourself? Think of specific aspects of yourself that you have come to view in a new light.
4. What’s wrong with the following statement? “People are what they are and you can’t change them. The best thing you can do when someone’s showing their prejudice is just walk away and don’t let it bother you.”
5. As you read the chapter section on clubs and organizations and all the possibilities that are likely on your campus, what thoughts did you have about your own interests? What kind of club would be ideal for you? If your college campus happens not to have that club at present, would you get together with others with similar interests to start one?
Outside the Book
Go to http://www.understandingrace.org/lived/sports/index.html, a website of the American Anthropological Association, and take the short online sports quiz. Many things have been said about why certain races or people from certain geographic areas excel at certain sports. People often talk about differences in biology and other differences among ethnic groups as related to sports. How much is true, partly true, or blatantly false? How much do you know about real or not real differences?
Visit your college’s website and look for a section on student activities and organizations. Try to identify two or three groups you might be interested to learn more about.
Next time you walk across campus or through the student center, stop to look at bulletin boards and posters. Look for upcoming events that celebrate cultural diversity in some way. Read the information in detail and imagine how much fun the event might be while you also learn something new. Then ask a friend to go with you.
Make an Action List
I admit to knowing very little about these groups of people I often see on campus:
By this time next year, I hope to be more culturally aware as a result of doing these things more often:
I would really enjoy doing the following thing more often with other people:
To participate in this activity with a variety of people, I will look on campus for a club or group such as the following:
I can do these things to learn more about this club: