To the editor,
I am writing to call attention to the tokenism that has surrounded Case Western Reserve University’s recent campus diversity efforts. As we saw last year, during the #webelonghere movement, one minority student stood in the forefront of issues regarding a security officer’s offensive remarks, in addition to Yik-Yak posts that referred to students of color in a derogatory manner as they protested through the North Residential Village.
The same student who became the face of the “movement,” however, was not the one to bring the issues to the community’s attention. Rather this student, under faculty encouragement, advice, and assistance, was given one of the sole voices in communicating an injustice that was experienced by many others of the campus community. The student was given countless opportunities to take pictures with university administrators and given awards for diversity efforts, even though the catalyst for those efforts was pushed aside and rarely mentioned in any coverage of the movement or subsequent events.
This year, in light of the university mulling over a switch to need-aware admissions, which may affect the diversity we currently have on campus, we find ourselves in that same position of enabling token activism again. The Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC), which claims to “…serve as an advocating body for diversity groups, a platform for voicing student diversity concerns, and a resource for organizations in regards to diversity programming,” has one minority student in the forefront, empowered to make decisions by certain faculty and staff, arranging forums and receiving awards for diversity efforts, despite not extensively consulting with other minority organizations on issues and next steps that will be or need to be taken.
Suggestions or ideas that may arise from these other minority organizations or their leaders are mentioned in meetings with organizations like UDC or even USG, yet the students who recommend them are once again pushed aside so the student with political favor within the university can serve as the face of the issue.
We cannot tolerate this any longer. There is room for more than one or two minority student voices. We must make aware and hold our faculty and administration accountable for encouraging and even assisting with this type of narrow minded behavior. It does nothing but make the diversity climate on our campus tenser, by silencing the voices of those who do not have a prominent faculty/administration member or office promoting them. All of our voices are relevant and they should all be given a notable platform to be expressed.
Fourth-year Student, Vice President of EXCEL