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Diversity classes: available, but not mandatory

My gut response is no. As a black man who has attend¬ed a primarily white high school who is now attending a primarily white college, I can scream to the hills for ages about the merits of diversity. Colleges shouldn’t be anything but diverse. The very foundation of a college is the exchange of ideas and having your thoughts and views challenged. Diversity facilitates this exchange with exposure to different cultures, geography, music, food, and more. However, speaking from experience, I do not believe that shoving diversity down people’s throats is the answer to creating a more diverse, conscious, and aware campus.

During high school, I was a mentor of the freshman class for the “Peer Leadership” program and a discussion facilitator for a program called “Everyday Democracy.” Freshmen were required to attend “Peer Leadership” and students in general were re-quired to attend “Everyday Democracy” sessions. Diversity was a topic that was often discussed, and I must tell you, I am not confident that these mandatory programs made much of a difference. First, I believe there is a certain stigma around the word mandatory. It is a forceful word, and students are often turned off when being forced to do anything. Secondly, diversity, racial awareness, and prejudice mitigation are all serious topics and should require the attention of serious people.

Given that it is 2019, I would like to believe that more and more students are aware of why we need diversity, but there are always those who are indifferent to the cause and those who genuinely participate in making campus a place of multiplicity. Again, speaking from experience, those who are indifferent to the matter or generally do not like to be forced to take extra classes will only bring down the moral of the diversity classes with a lack of participation or needlessly provocative or ignorant comments. I believe the solution is to continue to diversify campus by admitting more students of various racial, ethnic, religious, and geographic backgrounds. Diversity classes should be available, not mandatory, and one can rest assured that those who are serious proponents of diversity at an institution like Carleton will show up to diversity classes of their own volition.

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