What does it mean to be inclusive?
UC Davis has been commended for its diversity and values of inclusion. With so many people on campus — 38,369, according to the most recent student profile — it’s only natural that there should be a variance in students’ rhetoric as a result of varying experiences.
We’re all different, and there are many ways that we can perceive these differences — from the clothes we wear, to the music we listen to. Superficially, we can tell who we would get along with and who we would avoid. These inward judgments aren’t anything personal, it’s just a matter of having shared interests.
Our less superficial differences, however, are subtle and often overlooked. It makes complete sense that most aren’t experts at recognizing these nuances in such a sprawling campus.
Take, for example, the Latitude dining commons. The mecca of food for first years serves international choices that are godly among our usual meals of pizza and Mongolian wok. It’s a lovely place to try different types of cuisines which we wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
This is why it was painful to overhear students say they wished there could be more “normal” food at Latitude just a few weeks after its opening. I’m not mad that they want a salad or sandwich bar at the place — it’s the use of the word “normal.” In this context, normal is being used to describe American food, thereby implying that anything outside of American cuisine is strange or unappetizing.
This is not the only instance where I’ve heard other students unknowingly isolate their peers through their rhetoric. I’ve heard people call certain older residences and lecture halls “ghetto.”
Then there’s the issue of apartment hunting. Yes, I would love to live in West Village. I know how nice it is. I know that it’s a super quick commute to campus, and I know that many students live there. I also know that (factoring in my roommates and our desired floor plan) the rent stacks up to over $1,000 per month. When other students ask me about my housing situation next year, it’s assumed that I have a substantial level of wealth.
Oftentimes, these little blips go unchecked because there was no malicious intent behind the comments, but people don’t realize how insensitive these comments can be.
Here’s my frustration: On a campus-wide level, we’re all blanketed in inclusivity and respect, but just because you go to Davis doesn’t give you an automatic license to claim these attributes as your own. When we fail to educate ourselves about these particular issues, it’s a disservice to the inclusivity promoted throughout our campus.
Davis is wonderful in that it provides plenty of introductory resources for new students. During our first-year orientation, for example, we were given presentations by organizations such as the LGBTQIA Resource Center and the Cross Cultural Center. All of these presentations were highly informative and set a standard for newcomers in Davis.
Why is it that there’s still inconsistency with the way we address each other? We were supposed to have that all covered with these presentations and supplementary resources. Aside from a small population, the intricacies of “woke” culture are largely ignored in favor of an apathetic “she, her, hers” during discussion section icebreakers. It’s infuriating.
A majority of individuals who go to Davis are from California. In our freshmen class, 64.4% of admitted students are California residents. I’m a Florida native, and I’ve noticed, since moving here, that there is a general sense of complacency about social justice education among Californians. As a notoriously blue state, we don’t feel that we need to amend our words and behaviors because we assume everyone shares the same values.
Doing the bare minimum in terms of advancing social justice feels safer than fully committing yourself, because, as a whole, such efforts have largely faded. To be passionate enough to argue for your opinion opens the possibility of conflict and disagreement, which we often seek to avoid.
Between mocking “SJWs” and “trigger warnings,” there’s a stigma around caring too much about these issues. This obsession with being “chill” is totally fine in other sects of our lives, but when it comes to ensuring that our spaces are inclusive of all bodies, it’s completely counterproductive.
This complacency allows certain issues to slip through the cracks. It’s an injustice to those who are simply ill-informed to assume that they would know how to navigate such a liberal campus.
What we want to avoid, however, is an erasure of other political viewpoints. I find that overhearing individuals call Republican students “idiots” is just as infuriating as when the right attacks the left.
I am not arguing for all UC Davis students to conform to one particular ideology. What I want is space for dissent that allows for all views to be expressed in a way that is uniformly respectful of all individuals and their values.
Written by: Isabella Chuecos – firstname.lastname@example.org
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