Before coming to the United States, I had no idea what diversity means. In my country, most students in educational setting are Saudi and we are all Muslim and female students (gender separation) based on religious and cultural norms of kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since, I’ve started my program, I’ve had experience with diverse students. I realize this is a new diversity space I have never imagined. I usually think about how we can define the diversity. I know the diversity refers to many variables. As we know about the diversity iceberg last class, some of these variables are visible, such as gender, color, and race; less visible such as age, socioeconomic class; invisible such as, religion, sexual orientation, life experience, education and skills. In the same time, diversity has many benefits to provide for educational setting, such as exchanging the cultures, ideas, opinions and thoughts even learning new languages among students, faculty, etc.
However, if I want to think about diversity in higher education institutions, I find it is hot topic and the universities with diversity in students, instructors, and stuff means they are welcoming everyone who wants to apply. I think to increase any university’s quality, diversity should be one of university mission and goals. However, enhancing diversity with universities is more complex. In any diversity space, there are a multitude of different perspectives from different backgrounds and universities with different perspectives should be taken into consideration different challenges to promote diversity in order to have better global community.
Educators who are working to enhance diversity should understand different points of view among students, faculty, and staff. I have read an article written by Manning, its title is “Philosophical Underpinnings of Student Affairs Work on Difference”, the author argued understanding multiple perspectives on the meaning of difference and the concept of diversity assists educators in their work. Manning confirmed all educators have a perspective on diversity articulated or not that supports their work. She outlined seven philosophical positions that inform university educators’ beliefs about diversity. These are political correctness, historical analysis, color-blind, diversity, cultural pluralism, anti-oppression, and social justice.
For example, diversity concentrates on structural diversity or numerical representations of groups on campus. Color-blind perspective believes in equality and does not see ethnic and racial differences and considerate them as invisible or irrelevant. Political correctness concentrates on using the correct language “talking the talk without walking the walk”. Cultural pluralism has two different meaning: assimilation or acculturation. Assimilation occurs when one culture is forced to adopt the ways of the dominant culture while acculturation involves blending cultures by choice.
Thus, according to Manning (2009), recognizing where they stand in this matrix allows educators to work more effectively with students, faculty, and staff about the complex issue of difference. I think each of these positions have their features and may lead educators to have different priorities in the higher education setting.
In general, recognizing one’s approach helps educators to understand the motivations, belief, and goals in order to take purposeful action associated with a particular perspective.
Manning, K. (2009). Philosophical underpinnings of student affairs work on difference. About Campus, 14(2), 11-17.