CSU a cultural center

Oct 122009
Authors: Letter to the editor John Akira Harrold

Dear Editor:

After reading the article printed in Tuesday’s Collegian entitled, “The higher ed-diversity double standard” by Josh Phillips, I immediately sensed the blatant unawareness toward the privileges that he (a self-identified white male) receives and his frustrations demonstrated through his stance toward the advocacy offices (now “cultural centers”) in the Lory Student Center.

In the article, I sensed a feeling of disenfranchisement from Phillips since his “skin color was in the majority” and he didn’t have an advocacy office in which he could culturally identify. And to make it worse, “CSU has failed to make it known to the student body that these offices are available to all students, which is unfortunate considering that we all pay for them.”

I believe that his unawareness that these offices were open and available to everyone was a result of his own choices to distance himself from these advocacy centers. Phillips mentions earlier in the article that before his first experience with the Native American Student Services office, that he felt “apprehensive” around the offices and “didn’t know what to expect from the students emerging from their doors, nor did I (Phillips) understand what my behavior should resemble whenever I was in their close proximity.”

I was glad to later read about his very positive and accepting experience in the Native American Student Services office, but apparently his experience didn’t enlighten him as to some of the reasons why students who don’t identify with the dominant group should have a space to relate to other students of similar identities.

I don’t know where Phillips grew up, but from his earlier stated attitudes toward these advocacy offices I can infer that he may not have been exposed to much diversity (which is more than just the “pigmentation in one’s epidermis.” To me it means a number of factors like gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, class and ability status).

To put it simply, these advocacy centers are a place for minorities to be in the majority. And although Phillips claims that his “opinions, beliefs and political stance were in the minority,” I view that differently than what it means to be a minority on an ethnic or racial level.

I think that Phillips himself best describes his position in society as a white male when stating that he can “never fully understand” what it would feel like for a black person to be called a derogatory slur.

It seems to me that Phillips’ position in our society has consequently inhibited him from realizing some of the privileges that are afforded to him at the cost of those who don’t identify as he does.

And finally, I couldn’t disagree more with his belief that CSU has made “a positive step in focusing on commonality, rather than diversity.” To me that statement signifies a lack of appreciation for the differences within our student body whether they’re race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation or other mediating factors. To focus on commonality is to deny what makes us individuals. How we identify as individuals should be embraced and those differences accepted as a source of self-pride in the face of society that may say otherwise.

John Akira Harrold


Ethnic Studies major

Japanese minor

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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