Campus biases must be faced head-on

By Brandon Desiderio
April 3, 2013

Remember those bias-related incidents that occurred on campus this year?

Did you even hear about them?

Chances are, maybe you haven’t. Little has been done by the Cabrini administration, other than sending out a few vague email notifications and hosting a few minor events, to address these incidents and call attention to their hateful nature.

There have been three reported “bias-related incidents” on campus since September  – or, more accurately, racially insensitive and discriminatory incidents. In September, the “n” word was written on black students’ doors in Woodcrest; in January, a swastika was drawn on a hallway wall in Xavier; another incident happened only two weeks ago, although little is known about it other than that it, like the other two, was a “bias-related incident.”

It’s commonly thought that good things come in threes – but so do the bad.

Martin Luther King Jr. himself used this “rule of three” in many of his speeches, including in his speech “Non-Violence and Racial Justice.” In it, King cites two sets of three that reflect each other: “insult, injustice and exploitation,” followed a few lines later by “justice, good will and brotherhood.”

King shows us that we have to examine both sides of the spectrum.

At Cabrini, we’ve experienced these racial insults and the exploitative injustices that they bring in tow – but what do we do from there?

King’s words should remind us that we need to move towards these ideas of greater justice, good will and brotherhood; we need to actively address these insults that our community has been exposed to; we need to continue our call for greater brotherhood – and, for lack of a better term, we must practice what we preach.

Cabrini is lucky in that its integral mission intends to lead us towards an education of the heart, one of compassion that serves as a call to action for us to pursue justice for all.

But unless it’s actively used when our own community is threatened – unless those amongst us who have been targeted and victimized benefit from our mission’s message – then what use is it?

Where is the administrative action that our community needs?

It’s one thing to schedule events in response to these issues – but it’s another entirely to begin a genuine dialogue that allows students themselves to participate in the response.

The Office of Student Diversity tried to initiate such a dialogue, but it didn’t succeed as it should have, in part perhaps because it didn’t create a space where the vulnerable realities of race could be aired out – where race could rear its ugly head and expose the underlying tensions and conflicts that these biases stem from.

We at the Loquitur believe that, unless we speak openly about our experiences with race, and unless we’re willing to dig deeply into those experiences and expose our true thoughts, our true selves, then there will never be a clear path to justice, good will and brotherhood – to advancing the common good.

So we challenge you: prove us wrong. Prove that you’re listening, Cabrini, and initiate the painful conversations that must happen for the education of the heart, the education that we’re paying for, to truly challenge and transform our ways of thinking.

We’ve attempted to provide a platform for this dialogue on race to begin in this week’s issue. You’ll hear personal testimonies from students on their experiences with race, the good and the bad; you’ll read about the diversification of Cabrini students over the past decade; most importantly, you’ll learn that this topic of race is one that’s ongoing in Philadelphia at large, led most recently by Philly Magazine’s bold “Being White in Philly” article from last month.

As a student-run newspaper, we’re willing to open ourselves up to the ugliness – and the beauty – of a topic as enormous and complicated as race.

But without you, both students and staff, we’re just ink on paper.

Remember: you speak, we listen.

Brandon Desiderio

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