In response to the numerous columns in the Mustang Daily regarding equality and diversity, we would like to lend our expertise in shifting the debate away from polarization and closer to meaningful conversation.

The current debate in our view is not productive and is unlikely to lead us toward any greater understanding or solution. It rather serves to pigeon-hole groups of people into polarities of liberal vs. conservative, white vs. non-white, poor vs. rich, hard-working vs. slackers. The world is certainly more complicated than that.

When we create an “other,” it is difficult to see there are individuals with real lives and real challenges, and to empathize with concrete day-to-day experiences of oppression. The polarities of either/or thinking prevent us from seeing that our lives are filled with many variations, complexities, and commonalities. We then close ourselves off from hearing about the widespread racism, sexism and homophobia right here at Cal Poly. And perhaps saddest of all, we lose out on knowing and connecting with the rich, complex tapestry of individuals living in our community.

We would like to challenge the campus community to engage in meaningful conversation with the goal of truly getting to know the various constituencies and complexity of individuals on our campus. We are certain such a dialogue will shift the entire nature and tenor of this current debate in ways that will surprise and nurture and enrich all of us. Counseling Services as well as others on campus have already begun working with some groups to facilitate these conversations. To get involved, please contact us at 756-2511.

By: Elie Axelroth, Rob Clayton, Jill Fuselier, Barbara Gilbert, Shiou-Feng Gu, Brian McElwain, Justine O’Donnell, Mary Peracca

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