GW campus: segregated diversity

George Washington University has one of the most diverse campuses in the United States. We have students here from just about every state, and many countries around the world. We all have different backgrounds, cultures, religions, ideas and interests. Even when you walk down the streets of GW’s campus, you rarely hear the same language spoken with each step you take. The University even markets our diversity and uses it to lure in prospective students. In fact, that is one of the main reasons why I came to study at GW.

Personally, I come from a small hick town south of Fort Worth, Texas and I thought I could use a little diversity. I thought that I could learn so much about myself if I could just get on a campus like GW. It is really amazing how many different kinds of people are here. And I must admit that Thurston Hall was an extremely interesting and diverse experience. But as time went on, my dreams of diversity began to fade away. I started realizing that GW has a special kind of diversity thatisn’t much different from what I had back home in Texas.

I have learned a big difference exists between having diversity, and having a diverse community. GW has diversity in its simplest form, and it has potential. However, a diverse community actually has diverse interaction. What I mean is all the efforts by GW admissions to promote GW diversity are fruitless. The school cannot have true diversity when the students don’t even talk to each other. What we have at GW is a special kind of diversity called segregated diversity.

Each group has its own little world and could care less about anyone else. The American students almost alienate the foreign ones and the foreign ones stay with their own kind. We all form a little clique at the beginning of school and we almost never come up for air. The cultural organizations rarely support each other, and when efforts are made, they usually fall through.

The worst part about it is that most GW students don’t really care about our lack of diversity. They think that as long as they can stay in their own groups, then everything will be fine. We continue to form our little organizations that segregate our community, and we don’t realize that it works toward our own demise. Segregated diversity is worse then no diversity because students might come to think that we are supposed to keep ourselves separated. At least with no diversity, we do not voluntarily keep ourselves segregated.

Many private schools with one ethnic or cultural background don’t have the same diverse opportunities we do. In order to function in this country, we have to learn how to interact with people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. If not, we will make no progress. It is somewhat unfortunate that we segregate ourselves, we could actually learn a lot from diversity.

-The writer is a junior majoring in East Asian studiesand is president of Alpha Phi Alpha.

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