I have returned to the Irving campus after a semester abroad with fresh eyes, and I have noticed a visible change on campus since last spring; there are more students from minority groups attending the University of Dallas now than the 2017-2018 school year.
This observation is not based on racial and ethnic demographics available on the UD website, because there are few. Instead, my observation is based on the growing number of people I hear speaking foreign languages as well as the growing number of people of color I see.
For me, this observed increase in diversity sparks joy. If accurate, my observation suggests that I will finally be a UD student, despite this being my second year at UD.
To clarify, I am asserting that I will be a UD student in the eyes of my peers. As an American of Mexican descent, the lack of diversity on campus has set me apart in various ways.
Before the 2018 fall semester began, I was wandering through the DFW airport with a group of UD students. One of them, who I was unfamiliar with, looked at me and asked, “Are you a UD student?” I said, “Yes.” This person said, “You don’t look like a UD student.”
I do not care whether their comments were innocent or malicious. This brief remark gives the impression that some UD students have a particular idea of what characterizes their community and that apparently I do not meet that standard.
Still, I understand that, psychologically speaking, humans construct in-groups, groups that you are part of, and out-groups, everyone else not in your group. I also understand that people naturally try to find differences to further separate the groups.
However, I do not accept being excluded from people who should know better, and I ask that when psychology may work against us, we let reason prevail.
In The University News on Apr. 18, 2018, I described an example of racism where a father of potential UD student questioned my intelligence and hard work. For no good reason, he could not fathom the idea of me deserving a scholarship. I take it that he also had an idea of what an “independent thinker” supposedly looks like, and again, I did not meet that standard.
Often, I have heard someone at UD say something like this, “We are not racially diverse, but we are diverse in ideas, and that is what really matters.”
Often, I convinced myself this was a valid claim, but no longer am I convinced.
Does all of the UD community truly value intellectual diversity? In addition to some ethnic minorities being excluded by some in the UD community, people who are not Catholic undergo similar treatment. It seems like the lack of diversity on campus has limited the worldview of some students at UD.
I am not demanding that the school prioritize minorities nor am I asking the school to facilitate their entry.
I am asking the community to think critically about their view of the world and to think about how their minds would benefit by stepping out of any constructed bubbles to get a bigger picture of the world.
In the end, I am content with meeting my own standard. I am a UD student.