Sunday, April 18, 2010

UPDATE: SA Candidates on Diversity

A questionnaire posed to Student Assembly candidates from the Inter-Community Council is making the rounds on Blitz. Elections are tomorrow.

UPDATE: Link to full document here.

Some of the highlights:

Can you identify the under-represented communities at Dartmouth? Of those named, what are the issues facing two of these communities?

Elena Falloon: Many of the underrepresented communities are part of the ICC. In no particular order, these include the LGBTQ community, the women and gender studies community, the environmental sustainability community, the Hispanic Community, the Pan Asian Council, the NADs, the African American community, the socioeconomic community, the accessibility community, the international community and the multi-faith community.


They [international students] also face issues concerning financial aid that much of the campus doesn’t know about. For example, the financial aid plan of all students includes a portion that you are supposed to pay off through working on your leave term. But in some countries, it is impossible to make that amount because of the difference in value of currency. This is an issue that is largely ignored by the financial aid office even though it is an ongoing concern in the international community.

I have never met a person describing himself as a member of the accessibility or socioeconomic communities, but I imagine they have lively dinner parties. Disabilities did seem to be a common thread amongst all responses. I won't go into the currency argument as justification for favorable treatment toward international students; presumably most international students hail from Zimbabwe.

Brandon Aiono: There are so many underrepresented communities at Dartmouth that it would be hard to compile an exhaustive list, but these communities include: students of color from the Latino community to the black community, the Native American community, students from the Pacific Islands (fun fact: I’m Samoan!), students with disabilities, International students, students who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Curious, unaffiliated students, and so on…

I suspect underrepresented communities make up the majority of students using this system of measurement. Also, the poor Latinos have to be "of color" while the Native Americans get to break out on their own. Smacks of inherent bias.

3. What are acts of intolerance? Do you think SA has a responsibility to officially condemn said acts? What other policies or practices do you think SA can enact reactively and proactively in order to limit acts of intolerance?
Uthman Olagoke...Dartmouth needs to be an environment where everyone respects each other and their difference. So acts of intolerance are detrimental to my mission as SA President and I will not stand for it. I as SA President want to work with Parkhurst in creating a system that punishes and holds accountable organizations that willingly indulge in acts of intolerance.

That sounds fun.

Brandon Aiono: ...I would also like to say that I do not think it is enough for us to simply tolerate each other, we must also value the differences in experience and ideas that we each bring to Dartmouth and, by doing so, enrich our community.

You don't just have to peacefully coexist with all your neighbors, you have to be best friends with them. It gets better from there:

4. Compared to the number of minority students in the overall Dartmouth student body, only a small percent choose to affiliate with the Greek system. What are your thoughts?

Elena Falloon: I think few minority students choose to affiliate with the Greek system because it largely represents an antiquated, white, old boys club. Dartmouth’s student population is the most diverse it has ever been, but our Greek system has yet to adapt. Most houses are homogenous, and Greek organizations are known for celebrating their old traditions, even when they are offensive to other students. Greek organizations also tend to only interact with other Greek organizations in programming or social events. Some minority students might say to themselves, “These houses are not places where I feel invited to enter, so the idea of being a brother/sister is out of the question.”...
Falloon is herself a member of KDE sorority, of course.

The interview is 16 pages, so we'll work on getting a pdf uploaded so that you can peruse the rest. Would that I could imagine responses as funny as some you'll find inside.


International '11 said...

On a completely different note, I do not think discrimination (intentional or otherwise) is anywhere as big a deal as Falloon makes it out to be. I'm not sure what I would find offensive about Greek traditions, though I'm sure other minority students might have thoughts of their own on this.

The issue is just self-selection. Even a slight preference for associating with people similar to you can result in very lopsided, virtually segregated outcomes. (There's a famous experiment here involving a chessboard which can graphically demonstrate this.) I don't know how far this can be solved, because I honestly see a preference in both the international community and the Greek community for self-selection; they don't necessarily oppose others coming in (the most recent president of the International Students Association is a white American from Florida, and we can all think of non-white brothers at SAE), but these communities' are at their very heart defined by embracing certain people and excluding others. The ISA wouldn't be able to function as a social group for international students if half its membership were Americans who'd never left the country; Greek houses can never simply throw open their doors and let any person in automatically.

I actually think Tanner's idea of a fraternity open house might be good. Unless you're the type of person who sticks around frat basements long enough to get to know a few brothers who'll get you invited to other house events, you might never realize that there's more to frats than just pong and dance parties. A lot of minority students, I think, do not feel comfortable enough (at least initially as frosh, when it matters the most) in the usual frat basement setting to stick around long enough for this to happen.

International '11 said...

Mine is obviously a minority point of view, but I've usually respected the Review for at least having the guts to say something which might be unpopular but true. Posts like these, though, just confirm the popular misconception that the Review is just interested in saying things which are unpopular for the sake of stirring up, well, shit.

It's one thing to make fun of OPAL or certain overly sensitive minority organizations. I don't think highly of them either. But seriously, making fun of poor international students? The hell?

"I won't go into the currency argument as justification for favorable treatment toward international students; presumably most international students hail from Zimbabwe."

If you had an ounce of familiarity with internationals at Dartmouth, you'd realize that although some of us are from OECD countries like Germany or Australia, and some are from elites in the developing world, a lot of us are from unimaginably poor backgrounds. There are sons of African cow herders at Dartmouth.

Even those of us from the developing world, such as myself, who would count ourselves as members of our nation's middle class, struggle to pay for a Dartmouth education, even after financial aid. My most recent bill on D-pay was less than a dollar. I am not kidding you.

The leave term earning requirement, which assumes an American earning capacity, is ludicrously large for many of us. This is not an issue for just Zimbabweans. The hourly wage at McDonald's in my country is approximately $2 per hour, and we are actually one of the better off developing countries.

I'm very disappointed that the Review feels the need to make snide remarks for their own sake. Discernment is something college students tend to lack, but I've usually thought the Review, at least in recent times, to be spot-on with its snarkiness.

As Will Hix notes elsewhere in the document, the median income of a Dartmouth household is around $125,000. Perhaps this accounts for some myopia on the part of the editors of the Review. But if the Review wants to truly serve Dartmouth, as opposed to just the historically well-off WASP constituency, it ought to be able to look beyond its traditional confines.

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