The start of the new school year is a time to reflect on the progress that our campus community has made and the work that we still have ahead of us. Last semester was a trying and clarifying time for the Wesleyan community’s commitment to diversity. In theory, we are a community that offers all students the space to have their voices heard. But in the case of diversity, theory does not mean much unless it is linked directly with practice.
While we all might claim diversity as a priority, there can be a gap between our moral values and the way that these concepts manifest themselves in day-to-day campus life. In thinking about this problem, it seems helpful to shift our focus towards a more active definition of diversity. The fact that our community consists of students with a variety of experiences, viewpoints and belief systems is not enough to make it truly diverse. The concept of diversity can only come to fruition if all of those voices are freely expressed and respectfully heard. Creating an environment of true openness involves an active commitment on the part of each and every member of our community, a commitment which requires both the bravery to share voices and the humility to hear them.
We hope that this campus can expand its view of diversity so that there are no limits to its scope. The concept of diversity should include diversity of experiences, including those of race, gender, ethnicity, or any other factors that define a person’s voice. But it should also be extended further to include diversity of opinion. If we all felt truly comfortable sharing our thoughts, we’d likely find that our campus is home to as many opinions as there are students. But the confidence to share an opinion is not a given for every student on campus, be it due to external hostility or an internal desire to fit in with popular campus viewpoints.
This semester, we hope that this Opinion section, and The Argus as a whole, will play an integral part in increasing the accessibility of diverse opinions on campus. Writing can be an outstanding form of activism, and we want to ensure that The Argus can serve as a platform for any and all opinions here.
We write this while fully acknowledging that The Argus has a reputation to some for its lack of diversity on the editorial staff and its neglect of coverage of events pertinent to the student of color community. We understand that this might discourage some from writing opinion pieces through this paper. Above all, The Argus should be open every student here, even if hir opinion is the minority.
This might sound obvious in theory, but by acknowledging this problem and reaching out to the community to help mitigate the situation, we can hope to do a lot better this semester at actively accessing Wesleyan’s diverse student body and piloting conversations that include everyone and their perspectives.
Ultimately, creating this active diversity is the responsibility of The Argus as one of the largest and most viewed publications on campus. What’s more, The Argus and its writers are not just voices to be heard and judged by Wesleyan students connecting to their peers, but are also voices that allow any outsiders that want to look at our website to learn about and scrutinize Wesleyan and the opinions of Wesleyan students. So it’s important to us that students here can both recognize themselves and their opinions and be recognized from the outside as having a place to be heard in this community.
This is an issue that should be addressed in all sorts of environments on campus, whether it is in the classroom or in casual conversation among friends. We hope to promote that through whatever influence we have as the editors of The Argus Opinion Section.
Sammi Aibinder is a member of the Class of 2018, and Isabel Fattal is a member of the Class of 2017.