Lauren Rabaino

One of the pitfalls of going to Cal Poly is our lack of exposure to multiculturalism. Our education suffers without a diverse student population.

The unfortunate and now infamous Jena Six incident, along with other recent acts of hate, suggests that although we like to believe we live in a hate-free society, there are those among us that choose to offend and persecute others due to their race or ethnicity.

What upsets me most about these acts of intolerance is that rather than being the work of an older population that grew up in a time of less racial diversity, all of these occurrences have happened at American educational institutions, including most recently Michigan State University and Columbia University, two highly regarded academic establishments.

Last month, Columbia University was the victim of two separate racial and religious attacks when a noose was hung from a black professor’s office door and a swastika was placed on the door of a Jewish professor. Michigan State University had a similar event when students found four nooses hung from a classroom ceiling earlier this month. Since these events, other institutions such as California State University Fullerton and the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut have seen similar problems.

It is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated, no matter the circumstances. However, these events specifically seem worse because of their location at the very places that promote a higher degree of learning and acceptance. In modern-day education, an essential portion of most undergraduate programs requires an emphasis on tolerance. It seems ironic that the very places that stand to preach elevated acceptance and knowledge are also the battlegrounds for those with hateful inclinations.

I believe that in order to effectively win the battle against American inequality, we must cut the stems of hate close to the root – ignorance.

A hateful predisposition is, if anything, a lack of education. Hate can grow from many different seeds, including community and family, misguided interpretations of religion and a misunderstanding of another culture. However, all of these can be reversed through proper education.

We all have been given this knowledge as students, but it is up to us to become aware of it. History and modern events have taught us the importance of tolerance and illustrated beneficial changes multiculturalism can bring to a community. As young people today, we should recognize this and establish proactive outlooks on diversity.

So why are there peers among us unable to tolerate the idea of a just society brimming with equality?

In order to have equality, a basic tenet of our rights as citizens, a group of people must have respect for others. Without this common understanding, equality is merely an illusion of political creation. This respect can only be established through awareness.

And so the first steps toward realized equality must be taken through education and awareness.

More attention and funding must be guided into promoting multicultural consciousness. We cannot change the minds of the old and tired who are fixed in their ways but must cultivate the youth to establish a barrier-free, equal and respectful society.

It has been said before but it must be reiterated: this country has come a long way but still has much work to do to live up to its promises. Rather than accepting the stagnation of our current diversity, we must choose to reach for a higher, better road. Better for the minorities that have faced the worst from our country and better for the entire nation as a whole.

Taylor Moore is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily columnist.

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