By Lisa Petrov, Assistant Professor of Spanish
There is much in the letter “Are we doing diversity right?” that needs unpacking, but I want to focus on one question: “Why can our multicultural requirement only be fulfilled through the study of an Asian, African or Latin American country?” In fairness, this is a question I have heard fellow faculty members ask. The answer is: those are the countries, regions, heritages that represent non-hegemonic knowledge. At the core of multicultural education is the idea that diversity is intrinsically valuable because it gives us a fuller picture of reality. In the context of the United States, European culture is dominant. Still, we all need to know about non-Europeans to be able to partner successfully with “them”—both abroad and at
home. At Dominican we want all students to have at least one academic experience with non-European forms of knowing. We also want all “minority” students to be guaranteed at least one opportunity to learn about the ideas and practices of their own heritage. Europe can’t be both “the birthplace of civilization” and “the marginalized other.” That’s why classes with predominantly European-based content do not count for the multicultural core requirement. “Multicultural” doesn’t mean “not the United States.” It means, “not-European” (hegemonic, or dominant).
There is so much more I would like to respond to in that letter. I know others feel the same way. For that reason I’d like to suggest to the DU Star editorial board that it consider establishing a “Diversity column,” dedicated to an exchange of
ideas about the different aspects of the work being done on campus to create an inclusive climate. Because, to me, the important question is not “are we doing it right?” It’s “what are you contributing to the dialogue”?