I have been blessed to live in the best of both worlds, in terms of ethnicity. I have an Anglo-German father who embraces the Mexican heritage of my mother and and my mother has always supported my father’s heritage. With my parents’ example, I have always felt balance in my life. I embrace my minority heritage, while still finding a healthy pride in my Anglo-German roots. So I must admit, when the first wave of “it’s ok to be white posters” surfaced, I was unphased. They did not affect my day to day goings, and my life as a minority did not feel threatened. When this year’s wave arrived, I was not pleased, but once again my life was not affected. However, I was disappointed by the reaction on campus. I felt that the outrage and actions following the posters fed into the growing political void on campus and didn’t work to fight for real change.
My initial reaction to the posters was that while they were obviously in bad taste, I did not feel they attacked a group on campus. Concordia promotes various speakers on campus to discuss diversity. The atrium presents the flags from all of the international students from across the world. On campus, there is an entire position dedicated to diversity. I have had the great privilege to meet different people from all across the United States and the world. Never have I seen the college take any action to prevent diversity on campus. I do recognize, however, the frustration of the campus marketing minorities, and I believe this to be part of the growing problem of forcing diversity on campuses across the United States. Diversity is a perfectly wonderful and noble pursuit for a college, but it is something that cannot be forced. I fear that in the pursuit of achieving “diversity,” colleges will do anything to give the appearance of it. This includes the marketing campaigns to prove such a fact. This is beneficial to no one, in particular minorities. The use of “token minorities” is an insulting context and further divides the college rather than uniting it.
I do fear that Concordia, in striving to make the campus more diverse, forgets that the diversity of thought is just as important as the diversity of ethnicity. This is not a new issue at Concordia. In 2017, the conservative group on campus, Young Americans for Freedom, attempted to bring Ben Shapiro out to Concordia. There was such an outrage towards the well-known speaker that SGA rescinded the funding. While the college supported YAF in bringing Rick Santorum in, I have been disappointed to see that Concordia brings far more liberal speakers in than they do conservative ones.
The mission statement of Concordia is, “The purpose of Concordia College is to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life.” By having primarily liberal speakers, not only does the college do a grave disservice to the conservative students on campus, but it also fails the mission set in place. The posters exemplified this issue. The way that they were worded was meant to be vague, and left up for interpretation. This of course is problematic, as each person reacts differently to the wording. While I may have been unaffected, others may view it as a battle cry in action, or as an attack against a group on campus. I believe that this was the intended point of the posters. In wording the posters in a vague manner, it creates dissent on the actual meaning of the words. This cascades into an emotional reaction, causing interruption in the daily flow of students, and furthering the divide between students.
My other frustration was the current actions being taken in the wake of the posters. I was not a proponent of the walk out. While I respect the intended purpose, I feel that it is the exact reaction a person attempting to cause a divide would want. A couple of summers ago, I was in London during the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks. Any terrorist attack that happens in the United States shuts cities down. The bombing at the Boston Marathon proved such a point. But what I found so remarkable about the London attacks was how the citizens continued on with their lives. Instead of cowering in fear of the attack, it was as if the attack had never happened. The tube was running like normal, people were working, the city persevered. That is not what happened at Concordia.
With staging a walkout, it was apparent that the posters succeeded in derailing the flow of life at Concordia. My other concern is the current talk of an “anti-bias” policy. When I first reached out to the main supporter of the policy, the “We Wear Beanies Too” movement, they were unable to give a definition of the intended policy. The problem with taking such an action while not having a definition can be dangerous. When someone uses the term such as anti-bias or anti-hate speech, it becomes an issue of the first amendment. And when an organization is supporting a policy that can change the interaction between students and administration, it is imperative that clarity is given. After all, the reason that Concordia is in the situation is due to vaguely worded posters, so vaguely worded policies will only add to the tension.
I recognize the controversy of this article. I do not speak for any minorities on campus, merely what my own thoughts as a minority are in terms of the posters. I have a great deal of respect for what the “We wear beanies too” movement hopes to accomplish, I simply disagree with some of the policies they wish to put in place. I also wish to end this article with commending Concordia in light of the incidents. I am quite fortunate to be able to meet with chief diversity officer Dr. Antonio, to discuss my concerns about an anti-bias policy. We are in a polarized time, where political lines only seem to be splitting further. I caution all to allow cooler heads to prevail when incidents like this happen. We must rise above the issues that are attempting to divide use further. We shall overcome. Soli Deo Gloria.