By Stas Sulewski
The Campus Climate Survey taken during the fall of last year uncovered many things regarding diversity around the university. Something I noticed was that when the subject of defining diversity came up, everyone gave very safe answers, and from what we’ve gathered, many students believe WMU is a very diverse place. What I want to know is: If the campus is as diverse as everyone says it is, why is everyone being so safe about their answers?
Of the students we spoke with, almost all of them were very satisfied with how diverse campus was. While the survey backed up this finding, it wasn’t what the students were saying; it was how they were saying it.
The way the students answered our questions made it seem as if we asked it in a way that implied that they didn’t think campus was diverse, when in reality the question was very simple: How do you feel about diversity on campus?
The survey showed that staff rated campus as less diverse than students. When we spoke with a professor regarding diversity on campus, she kept bringing attention back to her specific class and not about campus as a whole. She seemed to avoid talking about how the university handles diversity, as if she was going to get in trouble for having an opinion that may be negative to the university.
What I don’t understand is that if everyone thinks the university is so fantastically diverse and everyone is friendly with each other, why is everyone tip-toeing around the subject like it’s still an issue? Shouldn’t we be discussing this openly if it isn’t a big deal anymore? Why is everyone so nervous to answer a simple question about whether or not they think their campus is diverse?
What this tells me is that this campus is taking baby steps towards becoming a truly diverse campus.
Right now, we’re in the beginning stages in which people aren’t worried about hanging out with people of different ethnicities, or being part of multicultural clubs. But in order to call ourselves a full-blown diverse university, we need to be able to talk about it as easily as we talk to each other about the weather. Because the fact that everyone is so afraid to talk about the issue just shows us that there is still an issue that needs to be dealt with.