Greek versus non-Greek. Christian versus non-Christian. “Rocker” versus “gangsta.” The list goes on.All of these divisions have been criticized as methods of segregating campus, but what many do not take into account is integration begins in the classroom.
Many concerns have been raised about whether TCU is effectively adhering to its mission statement by producing “ethical leaders” in the “global community.”
Some may argue there is not enough awareness raised for cultural and ethnic organizations on campus. The international students are in the International Students Association and the Asian students are in the Asian Students Association. There is a limited interaction of cultures on campus, and students are not stepping out of their comfort zones to experience more diversity.
Although the issues mentioned above accommodate to the preferences and comforts of students, they neglect to identify the root of the problem. Before students are held responsible for the choices they make, mentors must help build a foundation by example.
As of fall 2005, international students made up 4 percent of the undergraduate students at TCU, according to the TCU Web site.
Those 300 international students and their families invest just as much money in degrees as the rest of the students. Many of them are actually spending a significantly larger amount of money considering the costs of flying, the U.S. law that prohibits them from working off campus and the costs of a visa. International students deserve to get their money’s worth just as much as U.S. citizens.
International Student Services is a resource that gives international students a place to voice all the concerns of an international student – from furniture to visa problems.
But it is the little things many people overlook that make a difference. When a professor says “us” or “we” meaning Americans, 300 students cannot identify. When a professor refers to a biblical figure, the non-Christian minority students, international or not, are completely lost.
“I really don’t think they consider the fact that some students might not be Christian and they assume that we know who Moses is,” sophomore psychology major Kaushal Amatya said.
When a communications textbook discusses cultural differences but divides the world in two, the Western and Eastern cultures, international students are bound to feel not only confused and frustrated, but also left out.
The differences in culture among Asian countries are too vast to group them into one. While Koreans bow to greet each other, Thais bring their hands together in a “wai.” While many Thai people drive motorcycles and scooters, these vehicles are limited to young speed-lovers or food deliveries in Korea. There is no such thing as the Asian culture, not to mention the Eastern culture.
“We have to teach the majority, but not leave out the minority,” religion professor Andrew Fort said.
There are better ways to educate the majority as well as the minority. Instead of “us” or “we,” using “Americans” would be just as effective, and the extra three syllables will acknowledge the presence of international student.
A brief introduction of Moses, or any biblical character for that matter, to provide just enough information so that students who are not familiar with the Bible can follow along, will eliminate the isolation they might feel in classrooms.
As for over-generalizations with cultures, TCU should choose books that specify which cultures fit into certain theories.
How will TCU students become leaders in the “global community” if their textbooks are teaching them over-generalizations of cultures?
Small adjustments in language mean so much for the minority. It is not much different from the female-sensitive language we have adapted, such as “spokesperson” instead of “spokesman” and “firefighter” instead of “fireman.”
The unification of a segregated student body starts in the classroom, where we are not divided by origin or religion, but instead united by the fact that we all bleed purple.
Saerom Yoo is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Pusan, South Korea. Her column appears every Thursday.