Suburban campus forgets about diversity

By Rosemarie Gonzalez
November 7, 2002

Angelina Wagner

So where are you from? How many times have you heard this question? We have heard this since the time we set foot on this campus. People tend to think that we were born outside of the U. S. just because we have New York accents. When we are in New York, we never question why anyone else would sound different. Why does this intrigue our peers?

Just because we look and talk differently compared to the majority of people at Cabrini, doesn’t mean that we don’t fit your definition of an American. From our understanding an American is defined to be someone that is born in the United States. We believe that we represent America more because we represent a multitude of nationalities in the fact that we can speak two languages.

Cabrini sure hasn’t had an open mind about the various ethnicities that we are surrounded by. Everything is always a “black and white” issue. Even though Cabrini is not that diverse, there are people of other backgrounds, such as Asians and Hispanics that do go to class with all of you black and white kids. It is hard for us to not be perceived as individuals. We are not black or white and we are fed up with the fact that we are not even recognized in casual or intellectual conversations.

In one of our classes, the phrases, “Oh, I had African-American friends in high school,” and “I hung out with white people,” came up. We both come from multi-ethnic neighborhoods and we find that this comment is very disturbing and shallow. Saying that you have had black friends doesn’t reflect anything about you or your experience with diversity. It sounds like you’re trying to make an excuse just to say that you do associate with people who are different from you.

In coming from New York City, we do have the advantage of associating ourselves with people who are of different religions and cultures. We have grown up and gone to school with a wide array of people who have a multitude of ideas and opinions. We have a better understanding of Eastern customs, the suffrage of third world country citizens, and the political and social reasons for which people come to this country. Some of the stories that we have heard come from friends that have had experiences in these areas.

We have observed that there are a lot of stereotypes geared towards the treatment of women and immigrants in countries that Cabrini people have not heard of. On campus, people seem to be blinded by anything that occurs outside of this “bubble.” Women are forced into prostitution at young ages in order to support families or the community “businesses.” Incest occurs often, but in our American society, we say, “Ew” (or as we say in New York, “Ill”), to this idea. In other countries it is considered normal, but still kept under covers. The practice of female circumcision and the inequality of education are situations that we have also heard of.

People emigrate from their countries in order to live a better life, to be able to provide for family members that stay behind in the mother country, and to feel welcomed for who they are, regardless of social or economic status. They flee their homes because their land is being taken away from their government, making them feel unsafe. Some do not have homes or food to feed their children with. They have also succumbed to diseases that they have no control over because they don’t have the money or access to medicine.

Sometimes we feel disconnected from the world because we don’t have the chance to watch the news all of the time. What should Cabrini do about this? How can we be open to diversity if our student body is not exposed to all of the different ethnicities on campus? We should all take advantage of what college is about. Instead of being a “suitcase campus,” we should embrace club activities that welcome everyone and not just a specific group. Maybe if more people made an effort to attend these events then they would be able to identify with the person they thought they could never get to know.

You’re keeping yourself in the closet if you don’t approach people who are different. College is supposed to be about reaching towards things, situations, and persons that broaden your view of the world. Only then can you benefit from the full college experience.

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Rosemarie Gonzalez

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