Educators must incorporate viewpoint dialogue
As Hastings College moves into a new era of systematic education, it is important to assess the problems that have hid under the woodwork. HC, the institution that we call “home,” continues to be whitewashed by campaigns for innovative and creative endeavors but never focuses on sole issues that concern students.
Whitewashing, when addressed in societal interaction, goes far beyond the issues of racial injustice. Whitewashing is the censorship of minority groups by a means of bypassing or covering up concerns from that group. Minorities can form in every measure of societal classification; this includes race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, academics, economic status, age, etc; the list goes on. These minorities, in general, become whitewashed in some cases and much like our campus’ case, there is no creation of devotional dialogue or meaningful conversation.
As a student who is a multiethnic, racial and sexuality minority, I can say that HC and those in leadership at this school fail to recognize marginalism and exploitation while overhauling a college into what is called a “community of diversity.” HC may be diverse in terms of academics and interests but dives below the bar when considering primary subjects of societal profiling. Even considering the regional area as a variable and the issue of “relevancy,” in this matter that does not mean our campus cannot have a dialogue that promotes the discussion of minority injustice. Not talking about prevailing issues is the primary form of whitewashing practiced at this college.
Leah Shafer, a former contributor to Harvard Graduate School of Education’s online forum, “Usable Knowledge: Relevant research for today’s educators,” discusses the necessity of including dialogue in higher education on the topics of societal injustice and impermissible notions. In their October 2016 article, “Leading the Conversation: How we can (and must) train a new generation of higher ed professionals to start talking about race,” Shafer says “College graduates everywhere enter adulthood unable to hold nuanced, considerate discussions about race” alluding that most institutions fail to include topics of race in conversation through a positive, impactful manner. This argument can be used for not just race, but the topics that shroud minority individuals in our society.
Many student and school organizations on campus focus on creating an accepting atmosphere where students are able to share concerns but are overlooked or sugar-coated. Groups like Fire Circle, Alliance and Black Student Alliance create these dialogues, however, conversation seldom leaves groups in order to educate the larger portion of campus. Groups such as the Diversity Committee may have meetings, but any form of clear impact never reaches students. The outlets for inclusivity are hardly functional, providing no power to the matter at hand. There is no emphasis or action reflected onto these groups in order to successfully channel this dialogue needed, a theme prevalent to Shafer’s argument.
Last November, the admissions department hosted a diversity panel for questions from minority students in socioeconomic repressed areas of Omaha, Nebraska. I was given the opportunity to speak on this panel and accepted it. Unfortunately, I found that it deviated from the original concern. After introductions of panel members, the first question asked was about the diversity percentage at HC. Answers floated around how we are diverse in academic areas and interests, however, the question’s intent was never resolved. I answered that HC is not diverse but can be; our generation is part of the change to include diversity and acceptability. It was the only question I was given the opportunity to answer. Allowing only certain things to be addressed to prospective students while talking about the topic of diversity emphasizes the impact that whitewashing has created; HC hides the truths in order to not deter people away.
These panels happen often, but navigate away from issues brought up that bring real concern or are hard to swallow. The panels are also exclusive to the same students being asked by administration to help resolve the problems on campus. These students may not best represent the issues at hand because they are part of the majority that is withdrawn from any form of censorship. Issues like the campus climate survey results show that real action is required in order to have any traction but continue to be pushed aside because the topic is taboo or too hard of a topic to grasp. HC has a tendency to dismantle real problems by capitalizing on what’s “new and exciting.”
It is not one single view point that exists on campus or in society. Some have to jump through hoops in order to gain what some were simply handed. I can no longer tolerate learning in an atmosphere that promotes the ideals of whitewashing and censorship because we have not created open discussion or are too afraid to speak up for what is morally just. HC must open the dialogue for topics that marginalize and criticize minorities. Just because this campus has a majority in students, faculty and staff, that does not mean we cannot talk about the issues that affect the daily lives of students who undergo societal oppression. The problem needs to be acknowledged and everyone must work towards a permanent solution.