Privilege, discrimination and SMU

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Written by:
Devean Owens

Contributing Writer

dowens@smu.edu

 

When I saw the “diversity” article on the front page of The Daily Campus Friday I was angry. Why?

Because yet again this “pretty picture” is being painted of SMU.

Yet the same day this article praising SMU for its diversity efforts was published, Beta Theta Pi hosted a party themed “Cowboys & Indians.” [Editor’s note: the fraternity changed the Facebook event name to “Wild Wild West” shortly before the event which took place on Friday] One student was dressed in a full headdress and red face.

RED FACE.

You would think after the numerous articles discussing why dressing in black face, as Mexicans, as Native Americans etc. is not okay, people would realize what is appropriate and what is not. I am so tired of hearing, “I didn’t know it was offensive,” “It was all in good fun,” “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” Ignorance is not an excuse.

The next time SMU wants to have a discussion about diversity or publish an article on the topic, stop by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and get those students’ perspective.

These students will tell you how it feels to be stared at in shock or surprise by white students when they raise their hand to speak in class. They will tell you how it feels for a professor to expect them to speak on behalf of their entire race. They will tell you how it feels to have a tent on the Boulevard and be stared at like they don’t belong there.

They will tell you how it feels for a complete stranger to assume that they are an athlete. How it feels to have their Peruna vandalized during Homecoming. How it feels to have their boulevard sign hung upside down in a tree. How it feels for a Peruna handler to take a tray from their tent to scoop Peruna’s poop without acknowledging anyone at the tent.

These students will tell you how it feels to have rocks and racial slurs thrown at them. These students will tell you how it feels to be called a n***** walking across SMU’s campus.

This discrimination doesn’t just happen on a student level. It happens to faculty and staff as well.

You tell me SMU is diverse and I will show you how it is not.

A task force of select individuals sitting around discussing the issues is not sufficient.

We want action.

A mere apology or letter of disapproval is not sufficient.

We want action.

A conversation on diversity is not sufficient.

We want action.

“I as a citizen of the SMU community, I commit myself to upholding the values of intellectual integrity, academic honesty, personal responsibility and sincere regard and respect for all SMU students, faculty and staff.”

If Southern Methodist University truly believes in this “values statement,” then the administration should lead by example and do something to address the discrimination occurring on this campus daily.

After all, every Mustang will be valued, right?

 

Owens is a senior majoring in advertising.

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