Diversity issues addressed

by Letter to the Editor

Our college has made precious little progress in the area of diversity.

In October the Simpsonian published a fairly provocative letter from Gary Huynh and the Concerned Multicultural Students.

CMS expressed frustration over Simpson’s lack of progress with diversity. As of late-November, CMS has received no response whatsoever from faculty, staff, or students (The Simpsonian did follow-up with a report on recent “slight progress”).

I have asked many people how this could be.

The prevailing answer seems to be that few people expect much real progress on diversity here. As one student put it, “Hey, who wants to sink a lot of time into a losing effort?” While this type of attitude is understandable, it dooms us to failure.

Yes, racism, sexism and heterosexism are all around us. They taint our institutions and stain our psyches.

Worse, we often avoid noticing oppression, because noticing it would demand that we, as ethical people, take action to stop it.

Yes, we are born into a culture not of our making. But our culture is not independent of us-it is changed or maintained by our actions (and inactions).

Yes, prejudice and discrimination seem to be everywhere-but this means we can challenge them everywhere.

Simpson College, as a community, has declared diversity to be a priority. It is up to us, as a community, to live up to our promise.

The hiring of a new Associate Dean [if possible] to coordinate our efforts is a great start, as long as we don’t then defer responsibility for diversity to that one person. We need all areas of the college to address diversity in whatever ways they can best do so.

Let’s call on all academic departments and their faculty to make progress on diversity. Let’s do the same with all staff departments: what can Admissions do for diversity? The Alumni Office? Financial Aid?

Student leadership will be crucial. Let’s have CMS, ISO, Greeks and RLC all become more visible in diversity issues. And let’s all make a point of announcing to the [potential] new Associate Dean that we are at his or her disposal in the search for progressive change.

And please, let’s not succumb to defeatist thinking. Our college has too much talent and too much conscience to abide to the notion that major progress on diversity is beyond our reach.

Mark Freyberg

Assistant Professor of Sociology