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Embracing diversity

On April 19, 2012

Diversity Week is here, bringing with it all the various faces of UT.

Diversity Week provides a specific time to recognize the assortment of people at the university including those with varying nationalities, philosophies, languages, abilities and disabilities, sexual and gender expressions and religions.

Though this is a time to appreciate and divulge in cultures and experiences which are different than your own, it is also a time to evaluate where personal opinions and convictions on those who are different than you truly lay.

Realistically, homogeny may be more comfortable, but without facing new cultures or view-points, it is impossible to know why any given person is the way they are. It is necessary to have one end of the spectrum to define the other.

While there is nothing wrong with setting a week aside to celebrate diversity, how come we cannot celebrate diversity at UT every day? If a large part of the community has an interest in examining diversity, they should participate in conversations and experiences within other cultures more than one week out of the year.

If a large part of the community has an interest in celebrating Diversity Week and a wide variety of peoples, opinions and beliefs are seen, why isn’t every week an exploration of the area’s diversity? Also, it is okay to retreat to the individual or collective comfort zone when faced with and overwhelmed by the sheer difference but it is nearly backwards to live there.

Demographically, Toledo is extremely diverse. There are representatives of nearly every major religion, races broken down by nationality, political affiliation, sexual orientation, conviction and interest group.

Events on campus are centered around the focus of why diversity is important and beneficial. A large part of the college experience is in being exposed to multiculturalism.

Part of cultural awareness is also being educated about social injustices committed against minority groups. Gaining insight is essential to truly understanding why a of people really are the way they are.

Any curiosity a person has about a way of life or mindset which is different than their own could be answered by sitting down with someone who embodies the way of life in question.

A university setting provides perfect opportunities for this type of conversation. For example, if a student has a question about the beliefs of someone with a different religion, they only need to approach someone of that faith and ask.

There are several differing religious and spiritual student organizations on campus that would be more than happy to converse with others about their beliefs. A real life encounter is far more powerful and reliable than any Wikipedia article.

Unfortunately, many people live very routine-oriented lives. The average person associates with the same groups of people to the point of stagnation. That is not what the college experience is about.

People come to college not only for scholastic endeavor, but to also build memories and try new things. This campus has so much to offer and reflects the richness of the Toledo. There is little excuse to be bored at UT when there are so many people around us who we can learn from.

All of this aside, it is still important to take part in the festivities of Diversity Week. Upcoming today will be a discussion on Islam that will be given by Dr. Ovamir Anjum at seven pm in Gillham Hall. Also a Spectrum talent and drag show at eight pm in the Student Union room 2591. There will be a diversity ball on Friday in Student Union room 2584 at seven pm. On Tuesday a talk was given about racial discrimination. Wednesday hosted a myriad of events, one being an Arabic language and culture workshop, a religious dialogue and an LSU event that hosted a speaker and included enjoyable activities.


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