Some white men may lack perspective on issues of inequality
December 16, 2015
Editor's note: Read the response of the speaker mentioned in this column, "Inclusivity positions could be utilized by everyone."
On Tuesday night, Dec. 8, I attended a Student Senate meeting to make a comment about the committee I’m on, the Committee on Advancing Sustainable Efforts. We’re hosting an event in the Library on the 17th during finals week, centered on sustainable living and mental health, and advocating an $8.75 due that will be put into a green fund for students to use on sustainable projects on campus. After I made my plug I stuck around to see what else goes on during the weekly business meeting of our student government, and was intrigued by a bill to re-implement a position that would serve the students as someone they could talk to if they feel marginalized, offended or wronged by the University. When the list of speakers was made, I was sadly unsurprised when the first person to speak was a white male, who asked in sum “why would we need this? I don’t know of anyone that feels this way.” The second speaker, another white male, reiterated this question.
I was at first extremely surprised that anyone would question why a safe space to express problems on this campus is necessary. With over 85 percent of the University being white, obviously a person of color might be uncomfortable going to directly to administration with issues surrounding their race. As well, there is no information about sexuality diversity of this campus, so a LGBT person probably wouldn’t even know where to go if they had an issue. Other historically marginalized groups- such as women, disabled, muslim, etcetera,- would be able to utilize a student in this position to voice their concerns for them, since often their concerns are swept under the rug.
But after a little more consideration, I wasn’t surprised that this question was asked, because of who asked it. In general, white men have little to no problem having their voices heard on our campus and in society more generally. Throughout all of modern history, white men have been the powers-that-be. A white man may have less insight on what the experience of the less privileged have, and why they might feel insecure talking to administration about their problems.
The next morning as I traversed the University Center in search of coffee, I was annoyed to say the least that the Men’s Rights Coalition was once again allowed to perpetuate their flawed and misogynistic work at a table. Rather than going into specifics, I’ll simply say that what they stand for seems rather irrelevant to, seeing as the population the represent comprises the largest percentage of people in congress.
To deny that white men do not control the western world is to deny reality. What I tried to get across to these men was that as a feminist, I advocate for complete equality of men and women across all platforms. With an ever-increasing percentage of minorities in our lovely nation, those who have historically held control of power have to start agreeing to letting some of their power go, in order to achieve a fully representative democracy.
Adding this position to the Student Life committee board seems like a necessary and proper thing to do if the senate is committed to improving inclusivity on campus, as well as because we are slowly becoming a more diverse campus. In an increasingly globalized world, we all need to not only get used to, but embrace, having people who don’t look like us as apart of our culture and being represented by them in the legislative process.
Molly Kinney is a journalism student with a political science minor. She enjoys reading, camping, music, art and exploring new cities in her free time. In the future, she would love to travel the world and cover politics for NPR.