Minority professors deserve our respect

by Mark Pleiss

If you’ve been reading The Simpsonian lately, you’ve probably gotten the point: our school is predominately white.

But if you just drove by you probably figured that one out.

Our search to find minorities, and more importantly, minority professors, willing to grace our red-and-gold campus has become in many ways a search for the ever-illusive unicorn.

For some reason the very limited number of minority teachers out there don’t want to come to a private Methodist liberal arts college in the heart of small-town white Iowa.

Last week The Simpsonian published an article displaying the plight of the minority teacher at our institution. The story included quotes from Assistant Professor of Religion Eun Hee Shin, one of the school’s minority professors.

After reading it, we find out that being the minority in an institution such as Simpson can be very difficult.

The article exposes several truths about why Simpson doesn’t have much success in its attempts to hire teachers. Shin said she has to deal with students who are offended by her foreign beliefs and an overall feeling that leaves her asking herself why she is here.

If you think she’s the only one who feels alone at Simpson because she’s a little different, you’re wrong. All you have to do is count how many minority professors you have class with in a typical day.

I guarantee it’s not many.

Those minorities who are here can’t help but notice the lack of diversity at Simpson – both in skin color and perspective.

Many Simpson students come from small towns, which are typically places without a large minority influence. Foreign ideals simply aren’t easy to come across.

Therefore when small-town students come to a place like Simpson and their ideals are challenged, sometimes by a minority instructor, they can be shocked, or even offended.

It’s not a pretty site when it happens, and minority professors who are talented enough to challenge our values and ideals must deal with offended students nearly every day. The best teachers may be have to deal with angry student after angry student, which can wear on anyone.

We need to understand that we’re college students at a liberal-arts school. We’re here at Simpson to have our perspective broadened so we can achieve a greater view of what the world really looks like.

It must also be noted that Simpson minority professors, like most Simpson professors, are probably going to be living in or around Indianola. This means they’re very likely going to be the only minorities around campus as well as the only minorities in their neighborhoods.

Minority candidates for teaching positions at Simpson have to consider whether they’re willing to work in an educational lions’ den – ethnically speaking. Those who do choose to work here have to find a way to face that reality.

It’s true that there won’t be many people who look like them.

It’s true that they will receive more gruff from their students.

It’s true that it isn’t easy.

But, it is beneficial. Very beneficial.

Our minority teachers are among our most precious resources here at Simpson. Challenging students to think outside their daily perspective almost comes naturally to them, which is a great gift. Yes, even to the students they offend.

We have to stand by all our minority teachers and support them for their incredible work.