Diversify this

Column by Hallie Beard, Opinion Editor

My favorite lie about college is that it’s a time when students are constantly enlightened by new philosophies or surround themselves with diverse friend groups.

“But, that isn’t a lie!” you’re thinking. “My college experience is very diverse – I’ve changed my form of agnosticism three times!”

Well, go ahead and put a coin in the I Know Myself jar, then. You might think you’ve nobly surrounded yourself with people who are different from you, but here’s my question: how have you done that in a system that is designed to group us together according to our proclaimed tracks?

As some gen-ed-enduring readers may know, some sections of the almighty ENG 105 are major-specific, meaning there might be a section full of art major wannabes and a section full of Future Farmers of America.

Essentially, it’s a recipe for one-track-mindedness on the students’ part in a setting meant to combat that very thing.

Think about it: freshmen coming into the university will already be grouped with like-minded individuals through their transitions class and any major classes they’re able to take on. Then, they might get a major-specific gen ed like 105. Let’s say, too, that they’ve tested out of some other gen eds, so before you know it, this student has already solidified the group of people they’ll be studying with and learning from for the next four years.

Expansion of the mind and diversification of social groups, yeah?

It’s no secret that Murray State is fairly homogeneous in terms of race and ethnicity, and that’s a trend that will take quite a while to change drastically. White people make up nearly 80 percent of the student population (and faculty data isn’t much different), while black and African American students edge on 7 percent, according to the Fall 2015 Fact Book. That means other categories such as Asian, Hispanic or Latino have whopping rates of 0.9 or 1.8 percent, respectively.

Of course, there’s also Greek life. Now, because the ever-circling hawk of Greek life swoops into The News at any whisper of their name, I’m not going to use this as an opportunity to air my opinions of the Greek system. Suffice it to say that recruiting members according to gender, appearance, interests, financial status and connections is a sure-fire way to keep fraternities and sororities as they are: stereotyped, positively and negatively, from day one into infinity.

Apart from academics and extra curriculars, we must face that we do naturally surround ourselves with like-minded individuals because, as humans, we’re lazy, selfish and resistant to change.

Before you become defensive, let me put you at ease: someone who only spent time with people who were drastically different from them would probably be insane and have a strange empathetic ability. If you were in relationships where communication was inhibited and you were unable to express love, honesty or happiness because you didn’t share any common interests, that’d be a miserable, pointless relationship. No one does that, and if you do, stop. I’m not asking you to be constantly uncomfortable by, I don’t know, going on weekly dates with Vegan Victoria when you’d rather talk beef production with Angus Andy.

You should not be miserable in your relationships and “squads.”

What you should be, though, is mildly uncomfortable at times, for good measure.

Think of your diverse or challenging experiences or friendships as a type of beneficial itch. They’ll cause some discomfort, but they’ll prompt you to examine your own beliefs and keep your wits sharp. Maybe they’re the itch in your head that makes you realize, “Oh, darn it all to heck, I have huge freaking lice on my head and that’s why my hair is disgusting. I should change that!”

(In case you missed it, your friends are not the lice in that metaphor. Your thoughts and prejudices are.)

Thanks for hearing my opinion, loyal readers. I’m sure it completely enlightened you, considering the shortage of ranting thinkpieces by white college girls we’ve got in this world.

1 Comment on "Diversify this"

  1. Interesting opinion. I’m going to share if you don’t mind, however with a slightly different take. My Greek Life experience has been quite diverse, tho it may be that I go to a ethnically diverse school (University of New Mexico, 63% multiethnic or multiracial, with a 53% : 44% female to male ratio), and pledged a fraternity with the slogan, “One Culture, Any Race”. It is extremely important to seek diversity, especially on campus. I’ve been fortunate that in my geographic area its easy to find. Maybe try for grad school in the southwest part of the states! Thanks for the op-ed!

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