Editorial: Change needs to be a complete and collaborative effort

Open Forum for Multicultural Center(s)
Xander Opiyo/THE REVIEW

White students need to do more. That is what minorities of all stripes said yesterday at an open forum designed to collect student input on the direction, purpose and form of the new multicultural center on campus. The message was shared across all racial lines; Asian, Hispanic and African American voices held firm in their opinion that the white majority of students on campus need to make a commitment to the remainder of the campus community in order for any diversity initiatives to succeed.

The past several years have been marked by a number of incidents that have exposed the existence of a minority of white students who are willing and able to make racist and incendiary remarks. They have similarly exposed the majority of white students who, quite simply, don’t seem to care when such incidents take place. In the past few years alone, this community has endured racist posts on university-affiliated social media platforms, a noose scare and, just last week, a poster that vilified Jewish students.

The university has varied in the effectiveness of its responses, but one thing has always remained constant. White students don’t care. And if they do, they need to prove it.

While a fraction do seem to care, and have been vocal about issues regarding race relations on campus, small pockets of white students are simply not enough. In order for real, productive change to occur on campus, the entirety of the community needs to be engaged and empathetic.

The multicultural center that the university is in the process of creating is only a tool. The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter how many forums the university holds, how many resources are available or what centers and institutions the university creates if non-marginalized students don’t take the time to utilize these tools — to understand and empathize with what the struggles their peers experience on a day-to-day basis.

After all, one of the primary purposes of a university as an institution is to provide avenues for open dialogue from a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds. Unfortunately, that open dialogue will never happen if one side is unwilling to put forth the time and effort.

This creation of a multicultural center is an opportunity. While this university has a long history of sweeping problems under the rug, our campus community has an equally long history of ignoring the issues simmering under the surface.

The university is doing its part. It gathered experts from around the country to make this center a reality. The administration is reaching out to students to hear from them how they want this center to be created and run.

Now, it is time for students to do their part. This cannot simply fall on marginalized groups of students. It requires a complete and collaborative effort so that all voices are heard.

Change will not happen if the majority of campus is unwilling to listen. That is a privilege we can no longer afford.

Editorials are developed by The Review’s Editorial Board, led this week by Investigative Editor Jacob Orledge. He can be reached at orledgej@udel.edu.

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