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Opinion

Columnist offers numerous suggestions for improvement around UW-River Falls

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March 10, 2010

Not everyone looks like you. Not everyone believes what you do. Not everyone wants the same things that you want. Basic concepts and yet they seem to escape the grasp of the University’s programming.

With last semester’s demonstration of the campus’ surviving problem of racism, I would hope the University would have stepped up to challenge this mentality.

However, lukewarm festivals, classes taught by uninterested teachers and ambiguous speakers still plague the university’s attempt to teach tolerance. Why not institue more direct approach or at least something that’s a little more interesting?

Here’s some of my ideas:

Teachers who aren’t soapbox hippies and have actually experienced prejudice. There isn’t one diversity class I’ve taken or heard of that features a really passionate teacher who has experienced the burns of prejudice. Instead there seems to be a prevalence of card carrying liberal minded graduate students carrying the message of injustice on behalf of the country’s minorities. I would like to learn about prejudice from someone who knows what it feels like. Maybe someone who has escaped the country and doesn’t refer to the minorities they’re teaching about as “them” and the class as “us.”

Holiday recognition. This has bothered me. As hard as the University may think it’s trying, it has a long way to go to recognize other holidays of minority religions. It’s true that you will not find “Merry Christmas” anywhere on campus during the month of December, but paper Christmas trees with the words “Happy Holidays” doesn’t really fool anyone. Instead of making a mockery out of inclusivness, how about just including all the holidays. Light a menorah next to the Christmas tree, offer meal choices for Ramadan and Passover, celebrate the Chinese New Year. These are things other campuses have done, ones that have moved away from the the amibigious “Happy Holidays” while playing Christmas music in the Falcon Shop.

Class reform. We have a class that teaches the philosophy of the Bible, and then we have a class called “Eastern Religions.” Every other religious study in the history of the world is put into this “other” class. In the same amount of time the University teaches, thoroughly, the message of the Bible, students are expected to learn about the REST of the religions on Earth. Seems a little unfair, don’t you think?

More music. Our generation is pretty keen to listening to music. Not only that, but we react very strongly to music we enjoy. We are the most open to education if it comes in the form of creativity and modern culture.

Actual festivals. Fire dancers, drummers, belly dancers, parties in the style of another country and another culture. By way of recognizing other holidays that happen on campus, the University could spread the message of different happenings around the world and around the nation. 

This is a university that has a very real problem with racism, a university that battles a mentality prevelant during the years of segregation. We need to hit the problem head on.

First, maybe we need to set a fire under the butts of the administration and faculty. It’s up to the students to start a movement, a real and tangible effort to bring about change. These “festivals” we set up with fold out tables and postcards from foreign lands aren’t cutting it. We can’t wait until the next incident of racist bigotry before we, again, become impassioned towards change. But, hey, I’m leaving after this semester. It’ll be your University, you decide how you want it to be.

Chaia means life and Kimi-Chaia Lindberg tries to live it to the fullest. Writing is what she loves. Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese and English are the words she uses. Tel Aviv is where she is inspired.

Comments

Megan on 26 Mar 2010: Unity in the Community seems pretty legit to me! Belly dancers and drummers are certainly included and I think it's a great effort put forth by the University and community of River Falls to showcase other world cultures.

Lucy on 22 Mar 2010: A diversity class does not mean a class where a professor sits and tells stories of his or her prejudice experiences. It is a class that examines diversity on a number of layers and factors. There is a difference between diversity and prejudice.