Different perspective ignored

Simpson likes to promote itself as a diverse school. But no matter how hard the admissions office works to attract students from different states and countries, this college is only as diverse as the attitudes its current students, faculty and staff members display.

On Tuesday, Debra Davis spoke in Jordan Lecture Hall to a crowd of less than 60 people. Fifty-one of those were students, and only four were staff or faculty members. With 1,413 students at Simpson and about 250 staff and faculty members, that’s not much of a turnout.

It’s certainly not LGBTQA’s fault Davis was largely ignored by the Simpson community – a speech from a retired transgender school librarian should be an attention-grabbing event. The posters went up on Friday. Her speech was promoted on the college’s Web site for weeks. But apparently it wasn’t enough for the Simpson community.

It would have been nice if more people would have attended Davis’ speech. It was informational, but also far more interesting than the traditional Forum event. Davis offered a personal glimpse of what it’s like to be different – she was a perfect example of the diversity Simpson strives for.

Davis came prepared for opposition, but she didn’t face any – or at least no one spoke up if they disagreed with what she had to say. Students asked about fashion, dating and her family. They asked if she’s had gender-reassignment surgery. They asked what she thought about people who try to “cure” her. But no one made any strong objections to her message.

This is relatively normal for the Simpson community. It’s also part of a larger national issue. People in general prefer to hear messages they agree with. Simpson students, faculty and staff attend the events they support, and if they know they’ll disagree with a speaker they often choose not to listen to him or her at all.

One way to increase diversity is to expose people to different perspectives. It makes sense that if peoples’ attitudes at Simpson are more accepting, more minority students, faculty and staff will want to become part of this community. However, Simpson just had the opportunity to hear a unique personal story and most of us ignored it. This may be why it’s so hard to have a dialogue about controversial issues at Simpson.

The college can make a lot of plans for improving its diversity, but unless people start going to Forums such as these, Simpson will probably never be as diverse as it wants to be.