“Diversity for the sake of diversity is not an accomplishment or a step forward. It’s what you bring to the table.” – Charlie GonzalezApril 1st was no April Fools day for the Multicultural Affairs committee as they hosted the 2nd Annul Diversity Day. It was an all day event held in Sykes student union.
This event was used to encourage students of all walks of life to cross social boundaries and break barriers and debunk stereotypes.
The committee and the diversity day volunteers gathered together three long tables covered with free snacks, raffles, giveaways and diversity day buttons to wear with pride on the back pack or shirt to show the value and importance it represents on the campus.
Students were able to pledge as an individual to join the masses and team up to connect forces with other like minds as a whole to spread diversity far and wide throughout West Chester’s campus to promote the breaking of barriers of racism, classism, sexism and everything in between.
Even though diversity day should be implemented in the lives of students on a everyday basis the event was concluded with a discussion on breaking barriers; debunking stereotypes facilitated by Professor Stephan Clyburn in conjunction with the Black Student Union.
The discussion was led in with the term stereotype and what it means to people? Where do they come from? And is there some type of truth behind them?
One student said “a stereotype is a term used to define all people of a certain belief into a mostly negative category that may only reflect a selected few of the racial demographics. It is a generic perception of a person based solely on the group he or she belongs to be it color, creed, or style.”
Dr. Clyburn added that stereotypes stem from complexities of things that are around us and they are meant to boaster the self esteem to keep the things around us the way they are.
In the discussion the question was asked why broad generalizations are unfair and why do we as a people put up with them?
One student said “stereotypes are the way to keep things the way they are because it deters the people of that particular category from progressing.”
When asked what are one’s personal thoughts on that comment a student said “I can’t speak for everyone but for me I try not to live up to the stereotypes that are placed before me but I rise above them.”
Earlier in the day students were asked to write down some of their favorite stereotypes that they heard and put them in a shoe box. Some of the stereotypes that were read were: why are sorority women easy? A women’s place is in the kitchen, Asians are smart, blonds are dumb, black men are inarticulate and uneducated, white girls can’t dance, black people like Kool-Aid, watermelon and chicken, Jews are cheap, white people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, Christians are judgmental, and all black people fight or are angry.
Dr. Clyburn ended the discussion on the note of “why do we care to promote stereotypes about one another? We must practice empathy which is lacking in present day society and place ourselves in someone else’s shoes.”
Ronni Cain is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at Rc631645@wcupa.edu