MU
Oak Leaves

December 9, 2016

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OPINION
We Need to Embrace Diversity on Campus


Zoe Vorndran


Look around. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? In a constant, ever-changing society, we forget to appreciate and value the simplicity of diversity that engulfs us on our campus, in our communities, and within our nation. As a progressive thinker in promoting cultural and sociologic diversity, poet and writer Maya Angelou once stated, “In diversity, there is beauty and strength.” 

Understanding and valuing diversity within universities and campuses is crucial. Aaron Thompson, a professor of sociology at Eastern Kentucky University and coauthor of “Diversity and the College Experience” offers eight reasons as to why diversity matters. He claims that it expands worldliness, enhances social development, prepares students for the future, prepares students for work in a global society, increases our knowledge, promotes creative thinking, heightens self-awareness, and enriches our perspective. 

Interacting with people of different backgrounds expands our views on issues and magnifies the richness of our own culture. We need to accommodate to the changing demographics to our nation. The quote, “Today’s learners are tomorrow’s leaders” makes it clear that everyone, despite color, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, needs to understand their capacity.

As stated in Manchester University’s mission statement, we believe and “Respect the infinite worth of every individual.” Despite those words, I believe that Manchester is not sufficiently promoting its plethora of cultural diversity. “Michael Dixon is doing very well at promoting diversity and connecting with the intercultural students and I think the student clubs are doing a fabulous job promoting themselves,” said Bri Leatherberry, senior. “As a whole, I don’t think the students are promoting diversity well.” 

While we have events such as Taste of Africa, the International Fashion Show and plenty of clubs such as Manchester University International Association, Hispanos Unidos, Asian Awareness Association, Black Student Union and African Students Association, I do not think enough students are involved. My concern also reflects Leatherberry’s statement that these events will “Never be enough to understand the richness of someone’s culture.”

To involve the students more often, we can promote diversity through more VIAs pertaining to cultural differences. We can also promote it through writing, for example, posters or toilet talks are an entertaining and colorful way of disseminating information and ideas. Leatherberry suggested that the school create a monthly cultural food day or decorate the JYSC. By making a conscious effort to expose students to different cultures, Manchester could improve its stance on accepting and appreciating diversity. 

As a university and community, we can find hope and power in our differences because they unite us to other cultures and global experiences. Stephen Covey, a highly influential business man, educator and rights activist, once said, “Strength lies in differences, not similarities.” We have to take time to allow ourselves to experience new things, talk to different people and explore cultures in order to understand the functions of this world. 

“America is founded on diversity,” Leatherberry said. “We are a mosaic and we have to promote the thing that joins us together.”