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March 26, 2004 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-26

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 26, 2004

FRIDAY Focus

To me it's
hard (to make
friends outside
my race) just
because it's
human nature.
Some people
are always
going to
instinctively
hang out wih
their own
(race). I don't
think you can
do a whole lot
to change,,7
that.

There are
days when
you can
walk down the
street or the
hallways and see a
group of people
from four different
ethnicitities, races
... and they're
engaged in
conversation and
it's just awesome.
... Then there's
days when you
see whole groups
divided, ... It's
okay, but you
wonder why
there's the
separation.

a

LSA

Phil Copper
sophomore

By Farayha Arrine, Michael Kan and Karen Schwartz

I think until
there is more
diversity or more
interaction
between people
in different groups
it needs to be
talked about....1 I
don't think the
way we talk about
it now is working.
when you see
things like racial
slurs in
bathrooms and
hate crimes are
going on,
obviously
it's not
working."
- Kendra Jones
LSA sophomore
We are
brought up in a
country where
we're taught in
history class to
have a dominant
view over other
countries and
when I het in
touch with people
from other
cultures, other
nations, it helps
me get away from
those stereotypes
(and) the superior
attitude we're
brought up with
from

I
recent years, the University has received nation-
al attention because of its use of race-conscious
admission policies to ensure a diverse student
body.
Attracting students from various ethnic back-
grounds, the University now touts itself as the embod-
iment of a diverse educational environment.
And many students agree that campus diversity
allows for a deeper understanding of different
perspectives.
But how diverse is the University?
Does interaction exist between students of different
backgrounds? Do students equally recognize multiple
types of diversity? And what does diversity really
mean to them?
The Michigan Daily set out across campus to
find out what students today think about the issue.
Students approached had very different points of
view on the subject - some students said diversity at
the University only goes so far, with self-segregation
common on campus and limited social interaction
between groups. Others said the University promotes
racial integration while ignoring other factors includ-
ing, but not limited to, religion, geography and eco-
nomic status, which students say also contribute to
multiculturalism.
For many students, these issues still present more
questions than answers.

,HSE

i

ly socialize with individuals from the same
racial background, they also said it is neither a
necessary nor exclusionary distinction.
"Just as long as they are good people, that's all
that matters (when making friends)," said LSA
junior Eric Holmberg.
It's simply because the majority of the student
population is white that most people find them-
selves with white friends, Miller said.
"It's just whoever I meet. It doesn't matter to
me," he added.
Others said students who socialize primarily
with their own ethnic group should make more
of an effort to interact with students of different
ethnicities on campus. But it's just as important
that students feel accepted, LSA junior Rosalyn
Maben said. "We should all try, but we should
also try to feel comfortable." she said.

According to University enrollment records, 27 per-
cent of the student body is made up of racial or ethnic
minorities - including blacks, Hispanics, Asian Amer-
icans and Native Americans - but many students still
question how diverse the ensuing interaction is.
"I think there is a large mixture of different
cultural backgrounds at the University, but how
much those different cultures interact with each
other is another thing, and on a smaller scale,"
LSA junior Tom Miller said.
Many students said self-segregation is a way
of life on campus. Several students interviewed
said they mostly socialize with people of their
own race. But some students added that self-seg-
regation is understandable, as it is easier to make
friends with individuals of the same ethnicity
because of a shared background.
"To me it's hard (to make friends outside my race)
just because it's human nature. Some people are
always going to instinctively hang out with their own
(race). I don't think you can do a whole lot to change
that," LSA sophomore Phil Copper said.
LSA sophomore Joe Schramski added that, "it's
just the way it happens. Most people aren't super out-
going to go hang out with other people (outside of
their race). They are comfortable with the friends they
have and they stay with that."
Copper also said he doesn't think it is necessary to
meet people of different backgrounds. "It's not that
big of a deal. When you hang out with people you
can learn stuff from them. But you can learn stuff
from anyone. So I don't see that it's very likely that
you would be missing out."
While some students surveyed said they main-

Perspectives, attitudes and ways of life make
diversity mean more than just immediately notice-
able differences, Schramski said.
"You can't tell (as much with) other parts of
diversity, superficially, as you can with race," he
said. "Diversity is more about other things, but
race is the only thing people notice."
Schramski's friends come from different economic
backgrounds and different areas of the country - fac-
tors that he said contribute to their unique perspectives.
"One of my friends has never really had a summer
job. His parents are both wealthy and he doesn't
need it. But then there's one of my friends from
Hawaii.... For him things are completely different.
It's really interesting in talking to him and how he
talks about people from Michigan, because he's not
used to Midwesterners," he said.
People often use generalizations because
they're simple ways of thinking, School of Edu-
cation junior Krishna Williams said, even if they
are aware and conscious of multicultural issues.
But it's not necessarily a bad starting point, she
added.
"I think it's OK to generalize at first because
more than likely it's going to happen anyways.
We categorize and that's how we try to figure
things out," she said. "But you don't leave it at
that. You go check it out and see if you're right
- you might learn something new."
LSA sophomore Kendra Jones said she could
imagine that members of her sorority walking down
the street together could be perceived as a group
lacking diversity because of racial similarities.
Members also come largely from the same
geographical location and identify as Christians,
she said, but diversity in the sorority runs much
deeper. Sisters draw from different experiences
and have a variety of unique opinions, which she
said could go unnoticed to people passing by.
"I don't think people see that diversity. They
just see a group of black Christian girls from
Detroit, they don't see the diversity within the
group," she said.

--Krishna
Williams
Education junior

Whatever the answers to the complex questions
regarding diversity may be, Jones said more discus-
sion is needed among different groups to promote
meaningful conversations about tolerance. "When
you see things like racial slurs in bathrooms and hate
crimes, obviously it's not working," she said.
But is discussing diversity enough? LSA sophomore
Brian Ro said he thinks other measures-have to be
taken. Ro said his freshman year in West Quad living
with people of different racial and economic back-
grounds was an eye-opener other students might have
to experience to believe.
Especially after freshman year when students begin
moving out of the residence halls, Ro said they have
little incentive to try and meet new people.
"Forcing (people to live together) would be nice, but
at least the University needs to encourage students to
see how great it can be to live with different people,"
he said. Ro also suggested that professors make an
effort to include more group work in class so that stu-
dents are forced to work with others they may other-
wise not have interacted with.
LSA sophomore Candice Boyd said there are
other ways to bring people from different back-
grounds together. She said a free and fun event
put on by more than one organization could create
an environment where people could meet other-
wise unlikely friends.
"The University should target those that want to be
involved in more diverse groups but don't know how to
go about it," she said.
But students were divided on how important it is to
make friends outside of their racial group.
For Engineering freshman Nitin Gupta, interacting
with a diverse group helps him to "get away from
stereotypes (and) the superior attitude we're brought up
with from elementary schools,"he said.
He added that when he was picking a university,
diversity was one of his main considerations.
Impressed with the diversity in his resident hall and on
campus, Gupta said he enjoys hearing views from his
friends from other cultures.
"I'm a person who loves to meet new people
and a variety of people," he said. "I think it's
really important for people to get in touch with
other cultures and mingle with people from dif-
ferent nations, just to make a person more knowl-
edgeable about the world - it leads to a different
experience."
But Miller wasn't sure interaction was as necessary.
"I can't say you need to (interact with differ-
ent races). It's important. Need it? Probably not,"
he said.
So if some students feel diversity is the defin-
ing moment of their college experience and others
want the comfort of common ground with friends
who come from the same background, what can
really be said about diversity on campus?
Though Jones feels the state of diversity on
campus still has room to grow, she said the Uni-
versity has come far. "I think we've come a long
away from when the school first opened to now,
but it's still not where it needs to be."

a

You can't tell
other parts of
diversity,
superficially, as
you can with race.
... Diversity is
more about, other
things, but race is
the only thing
people
notice.
-Joe Schramski
LSA sophomore

I hate to say
it. If the
(University)
is such a diverse
group that they're
so proud of, it
would be nice to
see them more
encouraging
(students to
interact with other
races).,
- Brian Ro
LSA sophomore

46 I don't
think the
University
is that diverse. I
don't think we can
do too much
because the atti-
tudes are going to
remain the same.
It's tough to
change the atti-
tudes. You can say
it, but it's up to
them in the end to

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