Luther College Chips

Thinking about how to achieve a more inclusive and welcoming society

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As we start this new academic year, we must continue to reflect on matters of inclusion, cultural understanding and tolerance. We cannot deny that our school and its social structure results in a division between people. Often students find themselves hanging out with others who belong to the same groups or activities as them. As a result of that, I acknowledge that it becomes difficult to interact with others who are in not in the same groups.

We need to understand that having a fragmented community can result in the reinforcement of stereotypes and prejudices that come with that lack of understanding between people from different backgrounds.

We have unfortunately seen the negative results of this problem, as is evident from the racist and antisemitic incident on the football field in March, and the racist incident on the Spanish Table, and the one on a poster of the Drag Show in April. It is important for us to name and deal with these macroaggressions as well as microaggressions by using the right terminology. An issue does not  exist and cannot be tackled if we fail to address it. When we don’t label these agressions correctly, we also fail to understand the people who are being targeted.

The administration must understand that saying “bias incident” does not make me feel better when thinking about their actions against these matters. If this helps Luther develop a better reputation, it would also help to fully acknowledge the group of students whose emotional wellbeing and ultimately whose physical integrity is attacked. Not only that, but acting accordingly as well, by taking stronger actions to fight these issues. In this matter, it is vital that we hold the administration accountable and that we seek to bring a positive change that leads us to a more inclusive and understanding community. Naming the terms used to describe these hateful acts is a privilege the administration has; they have the power to minimize those hate incidents in our communities. More importantly, I think of the perpetrators of those hate incidents whose identities still remain unknown, just as much as the consequences they face (if any). As a community member and one of the minorities that was attacked by those incidents I feel I have the right to know. We all have the right to know.

With that in mind, we need to keep moving forward. We really have to honor the mission that our school has. I know that sometimes a first “weird” interaction might be the only way to connect with those with whom we don’t share activities or classes. Even though it may feel awkward, it is always good to attend different events on campus that might not be related to our immediate social group. It helps us get a broader perspective, but also to support a different group and learn from them.

Some positive changes have happened, such as the Endeavor Together Program where domestic and international students interacted together for a week prior to the beginning of the year. Some other examples are the renaming of the Diversity Center to the Center of Intercultural Engagement and Student Success, and the inclusion of the Catalyze Program.

We need to keep this up, to reflect upon our actions and the impact it has on our community. We ought to know what we can do to achieve a more inclusive and welcoming society, and, above all, we must understand we can’t afford to tolerate racism and any other type of discrimination in the name of tradition.

Signed,

Anthony Ramón Pérez Soto

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