Racist jeers highlight need for campus diversity

Guest Column
by Josh Edge
SGA President

I am deeply saddened by the comments that were made by some Transylvania spectators at the recent Centre College vs. Transy basketball game, where a player on Centre’s team was called a “token” player. While I believe that all of us understand that defamation, especially with a racial connotation, is unacceptable at all levels, I think that we must reflect as a student body on why events like these occur.

The fact of the matter is that anyone could have stopped this chant from occurring. I was in the crowd, and while I refused to participate, I did nothing to stop those leading the cheer.

As the university attempts to increase school spirit, perhaps we also need to focus on holding one other accountable to the de facto rules of sportsmanship and to a higher standard of inclusiveness. I believe that this event suggests that, as Pioneers, we need to be more active bystanders when something serious like this occurs at any university event.

This is not an exclusive problem to our campus; every college in the nation at one point or another has to deal with inappropriate messages, images, chants, etc. from small minorities of the student population, but I think that we need to begin a dialogue on how to rectify this issue.

Obviously, blatant racist comments like the ones made at the Centre game are inexcusable, but other comments made by the Transylvania community are often unnoticed. We should take this moment to consider how we treat not only racial difference, but also diversity in terms of socioeconomic status, spirituality, gender, sexual orientation and disability.

Diversity is not something that one can choose to do; we must all be a part of the conversation concerning individual difference. As the university begins to expand its effort to attract more diverse students, we should continue to foster a welcoming atmosphere for students from all backgrounds.

To undertake this effort, Transy has hired a director of diversity and inclusion, Eduardo Nino-Moreno. He has been very welcoming for suggestions and he would enjoy any comments on how we can address issues like these in the future.

Although we cannot change the comments made, we can take this opportunity to reflect on what it means to be different and to think about how we treat visitors to our campus. Diversity is more than just marveling at the novelty of something different. It’s about internalizing that realization so that we may better understand a particular culture’s worldview.

The Student Government Association would love to hear any comments you would have about school spirit, diversity, inclusion, accessibility and any topic on which students feel their opinions need to be represented. I hope that as a community we can move forward proactively in light of these events, and I expect our strong tradition of sportsmanship to continue.

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