Diversity is in the eye of the beholder

By Amina Mamaty | 9/12/12 7:57pm

amaniamamaty

Is Grand Valley State University diverse? “In the sense of plants and wildlife, yes; in the sense of humans, no,” said Valentina Valdes, GVSU alumna and former graphic designer for the Lanthorn.

On the other hand, Shelby Woody, senior at GVSU majoring in cultural anthropology, said, “yes, more so than it used to be.”
There are currently 369 international students on this campus out of 24,654 students total and nine cultural organizations out of the 180 organizations active on this campus, and I still believe that my GVSU is quite diverse.

Most people would say the opposite due to the fact that it is a predominantly white school in need of more color, but I have a different definition of the word “diversity.” Diversity starts by acknowledging that there are different cultures around you and making the effort to get to learn about them. You will be surprised to know how many international students you may bump into every day in the hallway on your way to class. Some of them look like they are from “around here,” but you will never know unless you ask.

Diversity means stepping out of your comfort zone from time to time; for example, attending meetings you think you can’t go to. Why is that, as an African–French girl, I am aware that I do not have to be Hispanic to attend a Latino Student Union meeting and when I do go, find myself sitting next to Asians and African–Americans in the room? Why is it that you are still hesitating?
A few, but unfortunately not many, of us care to dare.

Why is it that my close friends at GVSU are from Detroit, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Hudsonville, Nigeria, Mexico, Chicago, South Korea, etc.? They are around, and I see them all the time and they are my daily splash of diversity. I dare someone to tell me that my GVSU isn’t somewhat diverse.

We cannot continue to complain about the lack of diversity, and beg for more when we do not take the time to embrace the small amount we already have. It’s like having some pizza left on your plate and asking for another slice when you’re not even hungry. This school will be more diverse when we become a little more open-minded and culturally aware. To expect to see a change on our GV campus, we have to change ourselves first by being more tolerant.

Like I said, I admit that my school is adequately diverse, but again this is only my opinion. At this moment, what are you doing to make yours as well? Diversity is in the eye of the beholder, but at the end of the day, it’s all about making efforts and paying attention.
amamaty@lanthorn.com

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