Editorial: Continuing a dialogue on discrimination

By TNH Editorial Staff
On February 28, 2014

Education is the primary reason why all students attend the University of New Hampshire, but there are certain topics that students cannot become educated on simply by sitting in classrooms. Many important topics are touched upon in discussions in classes, but continuing them outside of class is just as important, if not even more so.

Over the past month, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and many University of New Hampshire students have launched a discussion outside of the classroom, using social media to voice their experiences about "being a minority" at UNH, sharing candid pieces of daily life as minority students at the 92 percent white university.

Most of our generation seems to think of everyday issues of racism as something of the past, but this month's campaign made it evident that to minority students at UNH, that is not the case; whether intentional or not, discrimination is far from an issue of our parents' generation.

Students here in Durham are not the only ones to have spoken out recently; students at Dartmouth, Arizona State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Mississippi, and the University of California, Los Angeles have also recently prompted discussions on increasing awareness of being more inclusive of minorities. On the same day that OMSA led a discussion based on the dialogue about being a minority using #BAMUNH on Twitter, The New York Times published an article that included these universities and told stories that seem reflective of many UNH students' experiences.

These universities and their stories of racism and discrimination seem to share a common theme: lack of awareness or education. Nationally, a larger dialogue has been publicized because of the front page New York Times article, making the issue larger than individual college campuses. But in order to actually produce productive conversations, the issues do need to remain close to campus. A national dialogue is important, but small dialogues on the UNH campus are just as important in changing the culture of our own university.

#BAMUNH and the subsequent events caught the attention of many UNH students in a new way. By using Twitter as a means for conversation, minority students publically shared frustrations and instances of isolation and discrimination that some may not have previously been aware of.

Continuing this conversation, which has garnered speed and attention over the past month, seems to be one of the best ways to combat the discrimination that some minority students have expressed they feel on campus. Once students are aware of the negative implications that their unintentional attitudes of apathy toward minority students - whether that is race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or simply being different, as shared in the article - they can no longer ignore the issues on campus. As a community we can do much more to be inclusive, and continuing this dialogue is where we need to at least start.

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