Issues such as racism and sexism have been in the spotlight in many places during the past few years, and UT is no exception. Past and present victims of racism and sexism have tried to speak up and let their voices be heard, and it is important that students understand these issues and be aware of how they have affected campus.
The Student Government Student Affairs Committee seems to be in agreement, as they discussed a resolution April 29 that, according to The Daily Texan, would “support all student-led efforts to raise awareness of racism and sexism on campus.”
One of the aims of the resolution is to “reform” classes carrying Cultural Diversity flags by distributing a pamphlet that chronicles incidents of racism and sexism at UT over the past 75 years.
This is an interesting idea. While UT, like every other college campus, has no doubt had its share of incidents involving racism or sexism, such moments tend to be unknown to much of the student population. Many students have limited knowledge of UT’s history in general, and most of them probably aren’t combing through archives trying to find mentions of racism or sexism.
The pamphlet would be a good way to begin to educate students on how these issues have affected UT. While a single pamphlet obviously would not encompass the entire scope of the issues, it would be a way to make students more aware of the ways that racism and sexism (and the movements against them) have played a part in both day-to-day interactions and larger events on campus. Students would be able to use them as a pathway to discovering more about UT.
Obviously, the idea of distributing a pamphlet in Cultural Diversity classes isn’t perfect. It would be naïve to think that many students wouldn’t just throw the pamphlet away or ignore its contents. There is also a question as to how the pamphlets would be integrated into these classes. Would there be time given to discuss the pamphlets in class, or would students just be given the pamphlets with the expectation that they would read them?
Distributing a simple pamphlet to students might also seem somewhat … simple. Most college students have a good deal of knowledge about racism and sexism, and the pamphlet would probably reinforce many things that they already knew. However, as resolution author and government senior Bryan Davis pointed out in the Texan, the pamphlet “isn’t meant to be an end-all be-all to the racism discussed…just a beginning to the entire process.”
Despite the reservations some may have, what makes the proposed pamphlet stand out is the fact that it deals with specific events in UT’s history. While it is easy to give students general facts about racism and sexism, giving them a document about incidents that have affected campus makes the issues seem a lot closer to home. As with many issues, it is easier to raise awareness about racism and sexism if students know how those specific issues in the past have affected how they live their lives in the present.
It is all too easy to look at racist or sexist events that happen in other states or countries and dismiss them because “they don’t affect me.” However, when one is confronted with specific events that have occurred in the places they live and work, it becomes harder to ignore those same issues. The pamphlet could go a long way in making students realize that racism and sexism are present everywhere, and that it is important fight against them whether they are highlighted on campus or across the world.
Racism and sexism will unfortunately continue to be present in society. However, even a pamphlet could help raise awareness of these issues among students and encourage them to fight against them. Pamphlet or no pamphlet, it is important that we continue to strive for an equal and fair society.
Dolan is a journalism freshman from Abilene. Follow Dolan on Twitter @mimimdolan.