A Never Ending Story

Posted on February 14, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I recognize that developing cultural sensitivity is a never ending journey. Just like everyone else in this world, I have my own bias and I have not been adequately questioned about them. I will continue to face significant challenges in this arena and yet I know that my genuine interest in being increasingly culturally sensitive serve me well. I am also aware of my own stubbornness in looking ignorant or insensitive and I must fight this trait in order to grow.

Here are some of the specific target areas I plan to focus on in this regard:

Gain a broader historical context behind race-based hate crimes and incidents on college campuses. This will not only provide me with a framework for addressing up and coming issues, but will give me a lens to detect foreseeable problems before they arise.

Gain a greater understanding of the ways in which culture or identity influences decision making strategies, particularly in regard to conduct related incidents. I recognize that conduct codes are not always written with the intent of being inclusive and this can lead to problems. For example cultural differences in academic dishonesty which you can read more about here. In addition, there are some cultures that use alcohol and drugs as part of cultural celebrations and while I think more problems would occur if such regulations were modified for certain allowances, I need a broader understanding of what rules might bring up the largest cultural differences and gain comfort in addressing these issues.

I need to gain a broader understanding and acceptance with the ways in which people view their education and the values surrounding education. I have a bias towards seeing higher education as a truly wonderful gift and something that should be available to anyone who chooses to pursue it and contribute in a positive way to the campus community. Some people may associate higher education with systems of oppression or taking away the culture values of their sons and daughters. I must have a wider lens with which to see higher education as a whole.

Continue to acknowledge the tremendous amount of privilege that I have. I cannot transcend my privilege and I must own it, accept it and find ways to share my stories about privilege in ways that help others recognize their own privilege and be an example to others through my work towards greater social justice and equality within higher education.

Some of the ways I plan on continuing to grow:

I will seek out professional development opportunities within my institution- At OSU I have been able to attend a number of staff meetings, workshops, and presentations that addresses issues related to cultural sensitivity. In particular I would like to participate in a NCBItraining at some point and would be interested in being on something similar to OSU’s Bias Response Team at my next institution.

I will attend events put on by the various cultural groups on campus and try to learn as much as possible by interacting with diverse communities and celebrating with them

I will work hard to introduce or improve upon the multicultural awareness component of first -year seminar courses

I will ask questions; I will find resources and colleagues on campus that I can go to with questions; I will never stop learning.


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2 Responses to “A Never Ending Story”

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You make a very astute comment above about how some might view higher education as part of a system of oppression. As much as we might view our environment as free and democracic and our work as facilitating liberation or transcendence from these systems, the fact is higher education was not created in a vacuum. It’s framework was constructed and is still very much controlled by the haves. Do you have micro-level examples where you have seen that play out at OSU? I have a student I’m working with right now who is very much negotiating family values and traditions against the OSU environment.

My first thought when you bring up this micro-level is the value that OSU and most other universities place on involvement in activities beyond the classroom. Theory and best practice indicate that students who are involved in academic and social clubs, student government, athletics, faculty-lead research projects etc. are more likely to succeed. With this being said, many students that have to work in order to go to school and this takes time away from their ability to participate in these retention building and educational activities. Ideally work study positions or other employment opportunities afford students with more than a paycheck, but they still take up time in a student’s schedule and therefore reduce their ability to participate in other activities. I think this is an example of how the value of involvement runs counter to some student’s socio-economic situation.

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