Are we doing diversity right?

By Sara Scheler

When I tell people at Dominican that I’m Lutheran, their first response is usually something along the lines of, “Why don’t you go to Concordia?” I usually tell them it’s because Concordia does not offer my major but the real answer is because I don’t want to be there. I want to be here.

I love Dominican. My time here has taught me countless lessons. It put me outside of my comfort zone again and again. It has challenged me in ways I never wanted to be challenged. I have had numerous existential crises. I have questioned my faith, my family, my identity and the very foundations of who I am on multiple occasions. I chose to attend a school where I knew I would be an outsider because I wanted a challenge. I wanted to learn, wrestle with new ideas, and grow. After all, isn’t that what higher education is about? Theoretically, it is a time to mature, become independent of your parents’ ideals and form an identity of your own. This journey of discovery is stressed by our motto of Caritas and Veritas. Students are encouraged to explore, experiment and find their own truth. No one here is allowed to disrespect their beliefs.

However, I would argue that this work is being done in the wrong way. We lob everyone into an amorphous blob, supposedly united under a common mission. We try so hard to be inclusive and fair but we leave people out in the process. We focus on certain targeted groups—homosexuals, undocumented students, women—and ignore everyone we determine is doing just fine, the privileged, and those we believe have caused the problems of our society (namely white people and males).

Why are we doing this? We are trying so hard to unite but we’re doing so by idolizing some groups and blaming others. Why can our multicultural requirement only be fulfilled through the study of an Asian, African or Latin American country? I deeply desire to learn more about the genocide that occurred in the country of my grandparents under Hitler’s regime but there is no room for that in my curriculum.

Don’t put me in a box. Don’t assume that just because I come from a privileged white family that I don’t know how the world works or I have never struggled in my life or that I don’t work hard. Why are there specific grants for minority students but none for struggling white students?

Don’t think that I have never been stereotyped because I’m white. On the contrary, I have had to sit through seminar classes while the text, the professor and my fellow classmates all blame white males for the problems of our society. My father is a white male. He is not to blame. We are the problem. Humans are inherently sinful and it’s us, collectively, who have screwed up this world. Our history books are full of white males making poor decisions because there have, historically, been more white males in power than any other group. Don’t think that another dominant group would have made fewer mistakes. Don’t tell me the solution is that women need to rule our society. That would be a disaster. We need a balance of male and female leaders because both have unique perspectives and their own strengths and weaknesses.

I want a place at the table. I don’t want to be told that I belong at the school down the street. I don’t want to be told, “You’re welcome here but we’re going to talk about this” or, “You’re welcome to have an opinion as long as it’s our opinion.” I’m sick of being silenced under the auspices of equality and inclusion. If you really respected these values, you would respect my pro-life views and seek to understand or at least dialogue with me about my other beliefs. Instead, I am lumped into a category of “religious conservatives”—a group no one seems to understand or listen to. People have ganged up against me. My friends have gathered into groups and interrogated, almost shouted, at me because some of my beliefs differ from those of the majority of Dominican students. Why would I want to belong to a community like this? On the surface, everything is fine, but as soon as a hot topic comes up, the conversation ends and the wall comes up. ‘Pick a side,’ they say, but you don’t want to cross the wall. It’s lonely over there.

Please, give everyone an opportunity to tell their story. Don’t silence voices you deem to be irrelevant and don’t blame any one group for our messed up world. Our world is full of sinful human beings who make a mess of things unless they try very hard not to.

Nothing is going to change until we stop pointing fingers.

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