A year ago, I was not happy at how Concordia overlooked the presence of minority students; we used to see minority students clustering together in DS, class and almost everywhere people gathered. This year, it seems this issue is being addressed.
In last week’s Concordian issue, I saw two remarkable articles, one of them titled “ISO Numbers Up.” While the author highlighted that the campus now has more international students than other years, what is puzzling is the fact that the president of International students Organization (ISO) is quoted as saying, “In the past ISO has been about reaching out to International Students, but now we are trying to include American students as well”.
First of all, this statement is very positive, but factually wrong. ISO has never overlooked American students. As a former board member of ISO, I know that domestic students are not an afterthought; rather, they have always been welcome since the inception of the group. It’s not only this year that ISO seeks to include American students.
Taking a closer look at ISO, one will see that the current president, vice president and communications officer of the organization are all American students, showing that ISO is not solely for foreign students, but domestic students as well.
Another article entitled “African and Black Student Unions open to all” also highlighted the need for domestic students to be involved in these diverse groups. However, just like ISO, these groups seem to “intimidate” domestic students and we therefore see less diversity in them. The sources encouraged domestic students to consider getting involved in these diverse groups.
Furthermore, there was a Tea House where people were talking about diversity on campus. Interestingly, most students who were available seemed to agree that Concordia College is a diverse campus; however, we still need to work on encouraging students to break away from their distinct groups and interact with people of all colors.
College-bound students who believe that studying with people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds is important will want to consider student body diversity when choosing a school. To identify these colleges, students look at catalogs, website pictures and statistics. However, It’s not about demographics or colorful catalogs showing a happy multicultural campus; it’s about a campus where people interact with each other without feeling intimidated or excluded.
The Student Government Association has done little to help on this matter. There is little, if any, collaboration between SGA and minority student groups. One might wonder if the student government is going to do anything at all, since diversity was never a part of their campaign platforms anyway.
I’m so glad that last week saw an increase in publicity encouraging diversity. Achieving a diverse, inclusive campus will clearly require planning, cooperation and hard work. However, it will also require Concordia and the people who make up this institution to identify and overcome barriers that are not easily recognized and that may even be denied. These barriers include hidden or unconscious bias, which I think are still prevalent on this campus.
Howard Mukanda is a Sophomore Student from Zimbabwe. He is Double Majoring in Business Management Information Systems and Global Studies. His Involvement with International Students, Peer Mentorship and International Admissions echoes his immense interest in Cultural Diversity.
Howard is also intrigued by Global issues concerning Peace, Justice and Democracy.