Letter to the Editor: Graduate says real diversity requires working together

To the editor:

As a recent graduate of Geneseo, I am upset by the events that have taken place in the community. Upset, but not so shocked.

I am currently a graduate student receiving my masters in social work at the University of Michigan. Privilege, oppression, discrimination and social justice are at the core of every course we take. Race, disability, sexual orientation, economic status and countless other issues that factor into privilege are discussed on a daily basis, both in and out of the classroom. However, despite all of the awareness and sensitivity in the school, there is still blatant racism and institutional racism that occurs regularly.

Two weeks ago, one of my classes evolved in to a three-hour discussion surrounding the racism that exists within our own community. If a community that focuses on privilege and oppression so intensely is experiencing racism, the task of combating it within Geneseo seems monumental.

Geneseo needs to focus on its strengths to make progress in its struggle for real diversity. Despite recent criticism of the administration, President Dahl's commitment to the university and diversity is unrelenting. When I was in school he would meet with the leaders of the special interest groups at least once a year, and actually listen to the concerns the groups had.

Groups like FARI are an incredibly valuable resource to the college. Actively engaging students to participate in their own community and increasing awareness to the general population are important steps toward change. Professors like Maria Lima and Gene Stelzig are an avid asset to the college, sharing opposing viewpoints and starting dialogue among students in a public forum.

It is the pooling of these resources and a commitment to change that allows dialogues like the one held on Nov. 16 to exist. In addition to combining forces to promote change, making the majority of students, the white population, aware of their privilege in a meaningful way is also incredibly important to the process.

Diversity doesn't happen overnight. It is something the entire university needs to commit to. Setting up workshops and creating dialogues are small steps on the long road towards change.

-Sarah Pinchoff

Class of 2007