At a meeting on campus last week, KSC faculty and students discussed diversity on campus and issues marginalized students experience in Keene. This conversation came after a student was posted on another student’s Snapchat story wearing a sweatshirt stating that if someone does not speak English they should go back to where they came from.
The students aired their anecdotes about either experiencing discrimination or helping their friends through instances of discrimination on the basis of race and/or sexual orientation. These stories ranged from having slurs yelled at them to commentary about the lack of diversity present both on campus and on KSC’s social media pages and website.
This lack of diversity is a complicated issue. While the campus should be commended for their overall commitment to getting international students to come here, the events promoting these different cultures aren’t nearly as publicized as they should be.
Another part of the issue is that many students who actually want to go to these events on both sides are somewhat intimidated because they do not want to be the outlier.; these students may also go to Admitted Students Days and be put off by the overall lack of diversity.
Diversity is not just about race however, it is also about embracing different genders as well as different sexual orientations. Oftentimes people only think of race with diversity because you often cannot tell somebody’s sexual orientation by just looking at them. Embracing these people is just as important as embracing different ethnicities and we should all continue to get better about the things we say as well as be more sympathetic.
This sympathy begins with education. This education would create exposure to these different types of people and cultures and create comfortability on both sides. The Equinox strongly believes this exposure should start from a young age and people should not be first experiencing different cultures when they get to college. We also believe that if diversity education was better as a whole, this incident with the sweatshirt probably wouldn’t have happened.
While we can’t fix the issue of the lack of diversity on campus overnight, there are steps that both the administration and students can take. First, we at the Equinox agree that first-year students should take a required class on diversity; this idea was suggested at the campus meeting last week. The class would help educate students on the importance of inclusion and how to coexist with one another. Although we believe these are lessons that should be taught at a younger age, all of us come from different backgrounds, therefore understanding each other is critical.
Students can also take diversity education into their own hands. The Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success hosts all kinds of events showcasing different cultures. These events are open to all students and everyone is welcome. Students should not be afraid to attend these events and educate themselves. Discussing diversity education and understanding is a conversation we should all be having.