Let’s all hold hands and dance to the beat of diversity because we all love diversity.
We embrace every culture and ethnicity; diversity allows us to become better people. Sounds good in theory doesn’t it? I bet some of you even get satisfaction out of just reading it. Anytime you want to get anyone’s attention at the university level, you can either talk about a professor’s latest publication, attack an athletic team or just talk about how your university lacks diversity.
That will get them listening, that will get them talking. That will get them fired up.
Being Armenian-American at this university is not easy. On a daily basis, you are slapped in the face with how you do not fit in here, and your culture is ignored. Your language is not taught at a university where you are paying a lot of money, classes almost never, or rarely, talk about your culture’s contribution to history and the world, and labeling goes on from applications to programs. You are either going to refer to yourself as White because that’s what they consider you, or Middle Eastern, a title that ignores that Armenians are Near Eastern. But you are not going to remember that or let it bother you because you have accepted the fact that in order to be understood; Middle Eastern or White will be it, get over it! You will learn to manipulate the two to work in your favor, just as you will teach yourself that you are going to manipulate the system to work for you.
Access to studying your culture’s language, literature, music and everything else is denied. There is a great deal of literature published by Armenian-American writers, Armenian classics translated into English, and numerous books written on the Armenian genocide by Armenian and non-Armenian authors. The language is studied at other universities; the Armenian Duduk (which I would bet you have no clue about, case in point) is everywhere you turn and yet no one wants to take an interest in it. Either people do not know that information is out there – in an age where technology makes it impossible for you to not know just about everything – or they simply do not care
I would like to take Armenian as a foreign language here, and I am not the only Armenian or non-Armenian who feels the same way. I would like to have discussions in classes that attempt to cover human rights or the history of crimes against humanity, the condition of third-world underdevelopment and actually include Armenian authors or some aspect of the culture. On the contrary, often I have come across very few people who care, and those who do have given me the opportunity to pursue my own research paper or presentation on the topic.
But at times they’ll just apologize about how the quarter system is to blame because “really in such a short quarter there is not enough time to cover as much as we would like to.” I am so sick and tired of hearing that over and over again; it’s getting old. Surely you can come up with a new excuse with your Ph.D.s and your fancy suits.
How diverse or enriching do you think this education is to me when it does not give me an opportunity to relate to it on any level or to take it and make connections in and out of the classroom?
Diversity – professors love the word, organizations thrive on the images it conjures, and administrators love to toss it around to brag about the prestige of their universities. Say it with me … we have diverse faculty members, a diverse student body, diverse tables and couches in our University Center and an even more diverse collection of books and chairs in the library.
Diversity sounds great on paper and it sounds great when, and only when, you let your imagination take over. Discover it by opening your eyes and ears and noticing something very clear- if we want to embrace diversity, do not exclude the minority (Armenians in this case). We need to also embrace change on this campus.
We need to change our opinions, our traditional ways of doing things. We need to revisit how funding is done for clubs and research and see how we can utilize it to empower this university’s ignored Armenian population. That’s my theory, another word you love to toss around.
Today we are trying to raise awareness about the Armenian genocide, but it is difficult to do when there is an obvious lack of a supportive community. Students at this university, just like those in the Armenian Student Association, are paying to get an education here. I’m all for diversity; I’m all for embracing other cultures; I’m just tired of the same load of crap. We need to start revising our traditional ways of handling students’ concerns.
Or we can all go back into our little black and white world and carry the same mentality that everything is fine at this campus, that our student population is diverse.
Let’s all hold hands and dance to the beat of “diversity”.
Anna Lulejian is a sophomore majoring in women’s studies and law and society and a member of the Armenian Student Organization.