Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Student body needs to stop exhibiting ignorant mentality toward diversity

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Anywhere you walk on campus, you probably see a reoccurring theme: a lot of students look exactly the same, not just in their manner of wardrobe choice, but in their ethnic background. The students who don't fit this image, whether they are a minority student or someone who dresses outside of the "J. Crew U" standard, tend to stick together.

According to Miami's website, our student body is roughly 82 percent white. While at first this seems unusually high, both Ohio University and Ohio State University have similar percentages, according to their websites.

We at The Miami Student believe this high percentage has created a bubble of closed-mindedness.

We spend four years at a university where we are supposed to learn new perspectives and how to work well with those who are different from us, but does that really happen? We, as The Editorial Board, think the answer is sadly, more often than not, no.

At the end of last year, two events happened regarding racial (and as a whole, diversity) issues at Miami. In May, Miami student Samantha Callender wrote a story for USA Today College called "Racist commentary at Miami University prevalent on anonymous app 'Yik Yak.'" It detailed the anonymous social media posts she felt honestly showed how racist the campus can be. Right around the same time, three Miami students made a YouTube video where they discussed their experiences being minority students at this school.

Both of these incidents sparked our interest, because we were able to see the perspectives of students who we see in classes and on campus, but clearly have extremely contrasting experiences.

Callender's account is correct, to a degree. How often are the most popular posts on Yik Yak about mocking either minority students, exchange students or students who are different from our social norms?

Students are the ones who are posting and "up voting" these statements, so what does this say about our student body as a whole?

Take exchange students, for example. We could cite numerous examples of jokes being made regarding students who are not from America. We need to alter our perspective on our fellow students. Miami's curriculum is challenging enough as is, but imagine having to learn economics in a foreign language, surrounded by strangers and isolated from family and friends.

These students deserve more credit than they are given. And The Editorial Board believes we, as a Miami community, need to be more aware of the challenges these students - and any students who don't fit the Miami stereotype - face.

Perhaps being closed-minded and making off-hand comments about race go unnoticed at Miami, but it won't be that way for long. Graduation will come, like it or not, and soon we will all be scattered across the country and around the world, in cities and in suburbs, in corporate offices and inner-city schools. When that day comes, being closed-minded won't be tolerated anymore.

The university has done a great job in the past few years providing students with opportunities to experience diversity, whether it be on-campus speakers and events like UniDiversity Festival or studying abroad in foreign countries.

However, it's up to us as students to take full advantage of these opportunities and to see the reason we should. We can't hide in our circle of look-a-like friend groups forever. Being ignorant and closed-minded is a choice. Being oblivious to the full meaning of racist Yik Yak posts and judgmental stares in the classroom is also a choice.

Miami might be a bubble, but the real world is certainly not - and it won't tolerate a closed-mind and cruel displays of mockery. We urge students to step outside their comfort zone and meet people who are different from themselves. We encourage students to not only attend events that celebrate other cultures and to travel somewhere completely different from Oxford, but also to take a look outside of what they know in any way possible.

Racist Yik Yak posts and diversity statistics don't define this university, and we know that to be true. But it's time that we step up and learn to accept and understand those who are different from us, because at some point we're all going to be the odd one out.

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