Diversity: it’s a word that’s thrown around a lot nowadays, especially here on campus. But even though its use is quite heavy, the word still gets misconstrued and misused frequently. This past Tuesday, the 8, I attended a very eye-opening event that shed some light on the amount of diversity (or lack thereof) here at West Chester.
WCU Women Speak was an opportunity for the female population at West Chester University to share their stories, thoughts, and various perspectives on women’s issues both on a larger and smaller scale. Held at 7p.m. in the Sykes Theater, the event was open for anyone to attend, and there was no shortage of attendees to say the least. As the performers recited their monologues, poems, and songs, the audience showed its love by clapping, snapping, and shouting praise at various points in the performance. All in all, there were eight performers that took the stage to share their personal experiences on how being a woman has affected them.
I left the event with an odd mixture of feelings. At one end of the spectrum, I felt exhilarated and inspired by the words that these women had just spoken. They were so true and unforgiving that at times I felt overwhelmed by my emotions. But on the other hand, I felt somewhat disgusted by how close-minded and judging our society can be, and that fact was amplified even more because it wasn’t being quietly ignored and not looked at; it was being spoken and reiterated and verbalized in such a way that was almost uncomfortable to listen to.
I came to a few conclusions after that night. 1: There is not as much appreciation and respect for diversity on this campus (and in our country) as there claims to be. 2: Even though we are well into the 21st century, women are still vastly underrepresented in a lot of aspects in our culture.
It seems that even though our school pushes for and advocates a strong sense of diversity (I mean, we’re all required to take a Diversity course in our time here), it’s still coming up a little short. Pushing for more diversity and actually providing more opportunities are two different things, and to be quite honest, it can’t all be put on the school’s shoulders. We as students and adults need to take the initiative and do more than just talk about it.
As far as my second opinion goes, I believe that many other people can agree with it in some respect. Relating to the issue on a larger level, the United States, a country that many think is equal with its gender rights, has far less women in positions of power than other countries all over the world. One comment that a performer made at the event really got me thinking about this level of inequality at West Chester. She talked about how women don’t get enough respect and credit for being intellectuals at WCU, and that needs to change. I couldn’t agree more. I see it sometimes when my roommate Ellen and I are meeting new people. The question usually comes up of what major we are, and when I reply communication studies, I don’t get a reaction. But when Ellen says that she’s a physics education major, people are always so shocked and surprised, as if she won’t be able to handle the workload or something to that effect.
So I suppose that I’ll bring this column to an end with a piece of advice. We as young people should not let ignorance taint our minds, and instead, we should do everything in our power to promote a diverse and equal campus environment for everyone to enjoy. Till next time, so it goes.
Rachel Alfiero is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at RA806657@wcupa.edu.