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The Blue & Gray Press | May 25, 2018

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Student diversity needs to be embraced and enhanced

By KUTOOF ALWAZIR

The world is a diverse place full of many different people, religions, cultures and languages. Meeting different people and learning about their morals and values is what makes the world a more interesting and understanding place.

The University of Mary Washington is a prestigious school full of amazing staff and students, but UMW falls short with the diversity of students.

No one can deny that the majority population of the student body at UMW is categorized as Caucasian.diversity

While these Caucasians are undeniably unique and diverse within themselves, they fail to represent the broader diversity of the nation as well as the wider world.

Diversity is vital in fueling an effective academic environment. Steve Jobs, creator of Apple Inc., said it best: “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem.

The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

It is important to understand how and why people think the way they do, and to gain knowledge on different attributes that people have to offer. Being more culturally aware, even on topics such as foreign films, clothing, food and novels, helps a person become more aware of the world itself.

Maggie Karrs, a sophomore English major, believes that “If you’re never exposed to other cultures, then all of your ideas about that culture will be things that you’ve been told by other people. And that might not be true.”

It is important to get rid of misconceptions. By straying away from these assumptions, people are more knowledgeable about cultures and religions and can therefore form an opinion for themselves.

Diversity is what makes Earth an interesting place. Meeting new people with a different back-story than you makes for interesting conversation. If people were all the same, then ideas, thoughts and opinions would no longer matter.

People would become ignorant and unaware of the uniqueness that the world has to offer us.

Being a minority at UMW is sometimes difficult. One starts to loose personal values and morals and can become influenced by others.

It is especially difficult when they do not share the same religion. When others that have similar viewpoints, in terms of faith, a closer bond is formed, and a mutual understanding is shared.

I was born in America but raised as an Arab Muslim woman.

My family was always open-minded and accepting of Western culture, but we stayed grounded in our values.

My siblings and I were all sent to a religious school that taught us the rules of Islam. I was constantly surrounded by friends that shared the same religion as me regardless of our different cultures. It was easy to understand each other, but coming to UMW was a different experience.

At UMW I was no longer was I surrounded by a constant diverse group.

People mostly from the same race surrounded me, and I represented diversity. This had not bothered me at first because I was able to exchange views and opinions with people whom were different from me.

As the year progressed, I missed being a part of a school that had no minorities and everyone was diverse in their own ways.

I was in need of a group that would understand me as an American Arab Muslim. Even though I found that group, the Islamic Student Association (ISA), it is a group that is a minority amongst the others.

Diversity at UMW is very scant, but events such as the Cross Culture BBQ are a great way to bring diversity together and for people to acknowledge the minorities of the school. This is what is important. Students should want a more diverse school with all sorts of different cultures to educate themselves.

UMW welcomes diversity with an open heart, but the fact is, it lacks it, and trying to adjust that is difficult. It is the student’s responsibility to welcome learning and become aware of diversity that is already at UMW.

Students can sign up for different cultural clubs and attend the meetings to get a better understanding of that culture. They should associate with people who do not share similar racial or ethical characteristics.

Despite the blaring lack of diversity on the UMW campus, the students should make an active effort to embrace the diversity there is, while the school itself should work on building a more diverse student population.