Despite our well-documented abundance of white people from New Jersey and Long Island hipsters, American University is one of the more friendly and universally accepting schools in the country.
Campus Climate, an LGBT acceptance index, gives us five out of five stars, not just because of the GLBTA Resource Center.
Our international student center introduces foreign students to the American college system and helps them feel more comfortable and able to deal with the weirder aspects of American culture (lax bros, or a drinking age of 21, for example).
At the moment, these organizations function well, and are able to address the specific, complex problems faced by members of each group. The Eagle wonders, then, why the administration plans to unify Multicultural Affairs, the GLBTA Resource Center and transfer student resources under one roof: The Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
There is no impetus for this action, nor are there any obvious flaws in these organizations as they stand. Furthermore, the last time the University tried something like this, AU Central was created—a headache-inducing Asbury labyrinth in whose depths one can often find lost freshman shivering in the fetal position, having just escaped the financial aid Minotaur who often roams the second floor.
The administration might argue that sharing resources will allow each organization to be more flexible and robust, and that providing a shared space will consistently encourage previously sporadic cooperation among the groups. Though we agree that cooperation is necessary, The Eagle believes the creation of the CDI is the product of a desire to appear “diverse and inclusive” to prospective students without carrying through the tough task of actually becoming so. That a university feels the need to create a Center for Diversity and Inclusion is evidence enough that the university itself is failing at diversity and inclusion.
Instead of aggressively pursuing inclusive admissions policies and diversifying the student body, the administration is choosing to once again do the equivalent of printing a brochure featuring a black female, Hispanic male, Asian female and white male sitting under a tree studying dutifully and smiling about what great jobs they will have in four years. In reality, freshmen arrive on campus ready for a melting pot and find it full of Alfredo sauce.
Creating a “minority problems center” glazes over the complex and unique adversity each group faces. The experiences a transgender student may have are often not comparable to those of first-generation students, and the resources each may need are also different. Lumping together these groups is a surprisingly ignorant action by an administration that purports to be in tune with student needs (though that veil, too, was lifted long ago).
If anything is evidence for the administration’s image motive, it is the inclusion of transfer student resources as part of the CDI. Transfer student needs are wildly different from those of the other two groups. If AU Central is any indication of university bureaucracy success, perplexed Midwestern transfer students will walk out of CDI with scented condoms, plastic gloves and “Connecting with your Pacific Islander Identity” booklets in hand.
We urge the University to either reconsider the creation of CDI or at least carry it out with the utmost care. Each organization plays a unique role in servicing specific student needs, and grouping them together to create the appearance of something—diversity and inclusion—the school is already failing in risks compromising the accepting environment that makes AU enticing for prospective students in the first place. ≠ E
Clarification: A previous version of this editorial implied official University services dealing with transfer student issues would be a part of the CDI. Instead, transfer students may be able to get resources at the CDI, but organizations like Transfer Student Association would remain independent.