Diversity remains a hot button topic at Concordia. There are entire commissions based off of implementing more diversity at the school, and many groups on campus focus on that very ideal. As a Latino conservative, I find myself conflicted. Certainly, I agree that diversity in any setting is a positive change. In the United States, it is often a matter of great pride of how diverse one person may be and what the culture in different areas looks like as a result of that. However, I fear that Concordia struggles at times with balancing diversity with practicality. I have grown more and more frustrated in recent years with many school pushing and pushing diversity. While it may be feasible to accommodate and assist students of different backgrounds and beliefs, it can become problematic when all the school cares about is looking diverse. I fear that Concordia has begun to stray in this direction, and that the school must reevaluate what it wants from its students and what can be done.
Coming to Concordia, I knew what I was in for. I was moving to Minnesota, the American motherland of Norwegian culture. With names like Hvidsten, Ylvisaker, and Olin, I had no doubt that the population of the school was going to be predominantly caucasian. And as a minority, I was perfectly fine with that. I have never once in four years felt like I have been excluded from activities, or singled out simply because I am of color. But this feeling did not come from the school’s campaign on diversity. In fact, more recently I have gotten frustrated to see such a staunch campaign, as I believe it diminishes the true beauty of diversity. To see a school try so hard to be “diverse” makes me feel like a token, rather than a member of the Concordia family. An example of this was the protest that happened last year after the infamous “It’s ok to be white” posters. Certainly, the posters were in bad taste, but I never felt threatened by them or that it made a fundamental impact on my experience. The reason for this is because I have found that Cobbers to be some of the most genuinely kind and gracious people I have ever met. However, the actions following the posters exploded a small inconvenience to a full scale issue. There were people protesting the posters, several meetings, and what frustrated me the most was the vast majority of people angry about it were caucasian. While I am not insinuating in any way that my caucasian colleagues should not be aware of the situation, to see that many of my other colleagues who are minorites go about their lives unaffected was a more important statement. So I became frustrated because it felt that rather than having a fair conversation about why these posters were put up and what societal issues could hopefully be addressed, it turned into a rally of white saviorism for minorities.
My other growing concern is the lack of support there are for conservatives on campus. While there is YAF, the mainstream conservative group on campus, they have not been nearly as active as they usually are. I believe this is in part due to the political atmosphere that permeates campus. It is obvious that there is a certain level of disgust towards conservative thought, something that I have personally witnessed. There have been times that I have felt my ideals were being pushed aside due to what is happening all across the country. I remember distinctly being called “ a traitor of a minority” because I was vocal on my thoughts on conservative values. While this school may be warm and welcoming to minorities, it is far colder to those who align themselves on the right. This frustrates me. Part of what education and diversity is about is diversity of thought. And when you stifle one kind of thought, then the surrounding space becomes an echo chamber of the same ideology. It has become increasingly more and more difficult to comfortably say I am a conservative on campus, because of the direction that members of the student body have taken.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel. I have not lost my faith in this school. Every morning, before I go to student teach, I put on my cobber ring. I take great pride in going here. That does not mean things should not change. I challenge the whole school to reflect on what it is we want to accomplish in terms of diversity. I warn you all that diversity for the sake of diversity is dangerous and foolish. Let’s make this a school all can be comfortable in.