When I read the article “Seton Hill’s lack of diversity stems from students to faculty” I was surprised to find out that there are students who have not discovered the greatness of our diverse Seton Hill community. First of all, 16 % of the student body is minority students, and for a small Western Pennsylvanian university, this number is quite high. When I first came here, I was amazed by the multicultural community. I understand that the view on diversity depends on where you are coming from. For example, if a student is coming from New York City or any other metropolitan area, obviously Seton Hill will look very homogeneous. But we should take into consideration that our lovely university is located in a rural area and 16 % is pretty amazing. Not to mention the fact that almost everyone that I have met in my four years here has some kind of heritage that is not only “older European”. I know people that have Native American, Indian, Cameroonian, Argentinian, and Columbian backgrounds. How is that not diverse?
Second of all, the information in the article that the focus of Seton Hill’s ethnic clubs has “waned” is absolutely false. NAACP has had a chapter at our university for 5 years now. And that is only when they gained official status. They have been on campus with their previous name the “Soul Club” since 1972! And they have been active ever since. Another club that promotes “exchanging cultures” is the Spanish Club. They hold numerous events throughout the academic year and they are open to everybody that attends Seton Hill University. We also should not forget the Intercultural Student Organization (ISO) that has had an official status since the early 90s. ISO probably has the most active members than any other club on campus. There are over 90 members and most of them are active. Not only are all of the intercultural students members of the club, but there are also numerous domestic students that have decided to discover culture and share diversity and have joined the club. ISO also hosts various events during the semesters that are educational, inspirational and fun. For example, the Intercultural Student Services Office with the cooperation of the ISO holds annual Intercultural Food Fairs. Those events are probably the biggest ones on campus with food from all around the world and multicultural entertainment. The most recent one had more than 150 attendees. ISO and ISS also host World Week. During that week, there are educational presentations that are showing throughout the day and, at night, there is some kind of entertainment that involves diversity and different cultures.
I believe that our campus is quite diverse and there are so many opportunities to enjoy that, if only people are willing to invest time and effort in it.
Response from Aja Hannah, arts and entertainment editor
I will respond to the criticism in my article from the first issue to the last. To start, I did have a part one to this article in which I talk about how Seton Hill’s diversity is higher than the surrounding areas, and that diversity is all a matter of opinion and perspective. We are diverse, not as much as metropolitan areas, but we are. Second, “older European” is a term from President JoAnne Boyle herself in an interview to describe the Greensburg, Latrobe, etc areas. Not Seton Hill. Our local municipalities are filled with this demographic. While there are people of many heritages, they make up a small minority off-campus which has led some professors to leave the campus. They could not find a significant amount of their demographic, whatever that may be. My point is not that we need more diversity. It is that barriers need to be broken. It is that racism and prejudice still exists, and we need to strengthen as a campus community against them.
As for the NAACP, my source was wrong, and apparently so is the one above. In a recent email, Marilyn Fox Lewis of Campus Ministry told me the campus chapter was started in 2003. I do not know if this means it went on hiatus until five years ago or any other specific related to it, but there it is. I am not saying we do not have a strong history of fighters and lovers and believers. The clubs may have been active through the years, but what is active? Are they simply existing? I am asking for a heightened presence, not simply an active existence in which I have not been made aware of any events.
Last, I do apologize about the ISO food fair. In the original article, I had a paragraph about it but because of time and space it ended up being cut, and another shorter sentence was not written. The ISO does bring intercultural life and diversity to campus. It’s important. However, of the students I spoke to about ISO, they believed the club was for intercultural students, meaning those from other countries. Not for any and all races of people, including generic Americans. Granted, these are not people involved in ISO, but perhaps this means there needs to be work to tell the public that they are open, and WANT, everyone. Get those 90 kids in class to talk about an upcoming event during the semester and how every person is encouraged to attend, how every kind of person is represented. It probably happens, I’m sure. Still, in my four years, I have not seen it. Another idea: change the name and reinvent the club for the fall fair. Personally, I like something hippie-like, along the lines of, “Question Authority” or “Make Connections, Not Separations.” Combat the KKK with the CCC (Cultural Connections Club). I applaud the work that the clubs do, and as a club leader, I know you can only do so much.
What I wish for, what I am pushing for in our future campus is a heightened presence among racial and cultural clubs. If I, the race writer, do not know of their work/is not invited to their events, then how will any other students know? I should, as the writer seek it out. But will the average student? And it’s the average student that you need to enlighten. How will a student that doesn’t take Spanish, that doesn’t pay attention to the fliers falling off the wall, know that they promote an exchange of cultures and not a “learn to speak Spanish” club?
Peace and Love
And feel free to write me, correct me, deride me. Anger equals action. Action equals clarity. Clarity equality compassion, and we can all agree there needs to be more of that.