Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Reflection of Monday's Class

After class on Monday, I started thinking about how our campus tries to promote diversity. I thought of all the different multicultural clubs on campus, the different classes that offer an inside look at different cultures, and well…that was all I could come up with. But when we look for diversity among the students in many of our classes we see that this is not the case.

In the School of Journalism, for example, the dominate group is white females. If a male is in the class, or anyone of a different race, we all get excited. This sometimes means we are able to actually have a "real discussion" about topics that sometimes the dominate class doesn't really know a lot about. We are able in a way to get more sides to each story, and cover things that might not be looked at, especially if their opinions were not there.

I came to Indiana University in hopes of finding diversity among the long stalks of cornfields and tractors. To my disappointment I found the same diversity (or lack there of in this case) as I did at home.

I feel cheated in a way. I was hoping for a life changing experience in college, and making connections with people of all different walks of life. Instead, I get the same thing, day in and day out. I go to events that try to promote diversity on campus, but there seems to be a lower turn out rate because many students don't really know about it.

What do you guys think about this? How do you think the school should promote diversity, in order to get different students of all different walks of life to come here? Do you think if that happens that it would make for a better learning environment?


Blogger Karlie said...

I tend to think of the business school as one of the major schools at IU that lacks in diversity. Especially being an accounting major, I am part of classes that primarily consist of white males. Females are of a definite minority, and racial diversity is almost non-existent. The most diversity I have found during my four years at IU has been in elective courses that I have taken outside of Kelley. The most unique, interesting, diverse students I have interacted with have been in classes such as philosophy or folklore or music electives. This really makes me question what the Kelley School of Business is doing to attract students of all different cultures. And also, why do many minorities stray away from Kelley?

I definitely think that the business school, along with the rest of IU, needs to do a better job of promoting events that focus on diversity. I think some of the clubs around campus should realize that although writing an event’s date and time on the sidewalk with chalk is cheap and easy, it is not always the best way to really get through to students about what is going on around campus. I rarely see people promoting diversity events and think that if these types of events were known about by more students, they would be much more successful than they have been in the past.

Ashley, I absolutely agree with you that it is disappointing to be in classes day after day with people who come from cultures much like your own. The lack of diversity not only hurts those that may not feel comfortable being a minority in such prominently white/male classes, but it hurts those of us who are in these classes. We need the chance to interact with people with different experiences, backgrounds, and cultures. Advice I received from many before I comes to IU is that part of the college experience is surrounding yourself with people who you may never have gotten the chance to be around at home. Much of this comes from being a part of a diverse learning environment, one in which IU, especially the Kelley School of Business seems to be lacking.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Katie Krengel said...

I also agree that we are lacking typical forms of diversity (race, national origin, etc). However, after really getting to know people throughout Kelley, I find that there is diversity besides that which is skin deep. I have many friends that come from different socioeconomic backgrounds than my own, have different beliefs both religiously and politically, and generally see the world in a different way than me. We have a diversity of ideas and beliefs which does bring about discussions that I always hoped to get when in college. Even in our class I find that the diversity of ideas shows. I guarantee that there is not one person that grew up in the exact same fashion or conditions as another in our class, and those childhood experiences shape us and allow us to be diverse.

It's true that we seem to be the same on the outside, and that could use some changing, but I ask you all not to overlook the diversity that does in fact exist among us.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

Katie brings up a great point to an equally great perspective from Ashley; what exactly is going on with diversity on campus? I think both of the arguments hold a lot of credence here on campus. On one hand, a predominantly white male population in the business school illustrates the lack of diversity IU tries to address, yet on the other hand there are many walks of life which all conglomerate in every class (such as ours).

My view towards diversity here on campus seems to be a bit more optimistic than Ashley’s - I would argue that IU, as a university (which is expensive for most, and therefore still only available to higher-income communities and families: as ugly a truth as it is) in Southern Indiana (which, again, is in the middle of OVERWHELMINGLY white community), it has done a very commendable job with regards to building campus diversity. Throughout my day, I regularly come across a vast array of cultures, races, and languages. As I spend most of my daytime studying at the union, I am constantly surrounded by groups upon groups of people clammering in Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, and Chinese - just to name a few. I do agree with you, Ashley, in the case that the business school is predominantly white and male; but campus, holistically, is far from it - especially given the geographic and historical circumstances. My perspective might be just because I spend time in a busy thoroughfare on campus that attracts more diversity (due to some underlying and indefinite cause?)- but again, I’d argue the contrary. Having organizations such as La Casa, the Hillel, and the GLBT, the university has attracted many students from all walks of life – just like Katie wrote. The issue might be then, to answer Katie's question, that IU broadcasts these groups so much in terms of community and relation that they tend to be self-inclusive and sometimes choose isolation within themselves (i.e., since the majority of campus is white, these diverse communities often self-associate). The community of IU, then, is indeed pretty diverse - although it hasn’t transcended into every major or specific study at the institution. Being a Biotechnology student, however, my classroom diversity is fundamentally flipped: I am the white male minority in most of my labs with regards to students from the Middle East and Asia. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled with a wealth of diverse interaction in and out of the classroom here at IU, and I can’t see the other side of the coin, but I definitely regard Bloomington as a diverse and liberal oasis in an otherwise white and conservative Indiana.

As an answer to solving the disparity among the majors, IU might want to encourage a broader array of academic interests in each of the diverse community centers on campus. Different majors and schools, also, might want to consider broadcasting to these communities. No matter what tactic the university employs, the bottom line is that the opportunities to promote diversity exist and are available for those who will actively engage them. That's all we can ask for - since a forced diversity program seemilngly creates a social paradox.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:52 PM  
Blogger nschutz said...

I think this post is fantastic and brings up a great point. As Ashley said, this campus prides itself in having a diverse student body, but in reality it is not. I spoke about this in an interview for a job on campus. My primary job was to write film scripts for a 13-week Black Film Series. The main topic we discussed was how I think it is not diverse, while my boss (who has worked and lived in Bloomington for over 20 years) disagrees. He asked me the same thing Ashley asked and I said, "You have to find something that brings all people together. For example, the Lotus World Music Festival." He said that he never thought of that and I feel that is something that IU can try and implement: new programs that interest many different groups of students. Yes, I know that is very difficult, but perhaps to get the presidents of each of the cultural organizations together for a bi-monthly meeting to discuss these issues.

It is important to note that the administration is not the only one to blame. Students also need to reach out to the organizations throughout campus.

1. Go to events that you are unfamiliar with. For example, the Step Down Show that is held every Saturday of Little 500.

2. Walk through the different cultural centers and look on their bulletin boards for activities in that department.

3. Volunteer at cultural activities.

If every student did these things and the administration helped out, this campus would actually be diverse in the context that it is said in the IU flyers.

10:51 PM  

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