Snarky Behavior

A Day Out Against Hate?

November 28, 2007 · Leave a Comment

So I received this email from our dean:

On Thursday, November 29th, Columbia students will have the opportunity to participate in various activities to mark NYC’s “Day out against Hate.”  In addition to these activities, SIPA students who are concerned about recent bias incidents on campus and want to support diversity at SIPA are invited to a forum from 4:00 – 5:00pm this Thursday, November 29th in Room 1501.  Please join SIPASA MPA Co-president Pat Contreras, Associate Dean Sara Mason and Assistant Dean Alleyne Waysome to discuss possible initiatives to support diversity and students from underrepresented groups (for example, African Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, and other constituencies who feel they need representation) to contribute your ideas and experiences.

I’m somewhat concerned that the response to “recent bias incidents” is an open forum that categorically lists underrepresented groups to “contribute their ideas and experiences” in the discussion of possible initiatives to support diversity.

My concern is that this isn’t an open forum to all students.  I fail to see how a dialog about diversity is a logical response to a hate incident, and how this activity represents the intention of “A Day Out Against Hate,” which implies solidarity in support of tolerance, and against bigotry.  That is to say, it seems more of a reactionary response than a progressive one.
I would be much more comfortable if the school choose to approach the forum as an alliance of students against hate instead of atomizing us based on the principle of “representation.”  First of all, proportionally, Asian Americans are not underrepresented in higher education, and their inclusion in this invitation (and the notable exclusion of white students) makes the whole exercise suspect.  Secondly, as an international school, diversity is our calling card, and I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what the plural majority might be in terms of ethnic representation.

I have no doubt that as a white male I am implicitly invited to this event, but it makes me somewhat uncomfortable that I would be explicitly neglected in the invitation.  Diversity, tolerance and respect are universal ideals, and should be discussed universally.  Although I may not feel threatened by the bias incidents performed on campus, I am equally ashamed as any other student that they took place at my University.

My point is: there are male feminists, there are gay-straight alliances, there are inclusive progressive groups everywhere promoting diversity in solidarity.  “A Day Out Against Hate” should similarly be a united front.

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