Students discuss “hatred,” diversity at Quinnipiac

By on October 1, 2008

It has been 17 days since Quinnipiac released Mark Thompson’s memo surrounding the “acts of hatred” on campus, and as of press time, those who committed the acts have yet to be found.
“We are vigorously trying to find out who did it,” Thompson, senior vice president for academic and student affairs, said. “But sometimes peoples’ focus is misdirected on these issues. What we are hoping to accomplish here is to gain a more broad view towards greater tolerance.”
And while Thompson wanted to stress the importance of a more general approach to this issue, his reply to a specific question was what interested the campus.
When asked if he saw any sort of a connection between the “acts of hatred” and the percentage of ethnicities on this campus, his answer was one word:
“No.”
Some Quinnipiac students answered to the contrary.
“It’s about environment,” sophomore ZeZhao Lin, a New York City resident, said. “Back in New York City, saying the n-word isn’t a big deal. Here, it’s a big deal.”
Lin, originally from China, felt there was different way of interpreting words in different locations.
“It has a lot to do with people feeling out of place,” he said. “Not everyone is used to paying $2.49 for a Gatorade. That makes a lot of the people from lower class communities feel like they’re out of place–like they don’t belong. And if they’re a minority, it puts them even more out of place.”
Lin felt that “gap” between minorities and the predominant white is the reason Quinnipiac has seen so many “acts of hatred,” though he felt the term was a manufactured one.
“There are two different interpretations (as to why this happens),” Lin said. “One is that people think they can act the same way they did in high school, whether it’s with a lot of minorities or none at all–you notice how these issues are always happening in freshman dorms? Some people don’t realize what’s appropriate.”
“The second interpretation has to do with white students, upper-class people who are usually from private schools, who develop a sense that college is for the majority,” he said. “They see minorities walking around and they blurt something out. They don’t intend to do it, but it’s hard to hide what you really want to say. They lived their whole lives in a room to themselves in a big house, and suddenly they’re with three other roommates, and maybe a minority. That’s where it happens.”
And while many concurred with Lin, there were a few students who agreed with Thompson and felt there was no connection between the acts and Quinnipiac’s demographics.
“It had to do with people not thinking straight,” freshman Andrew Papai said. “They were probably under the influence, and it had more to do with bad judgment than actually being racially insensitive.”
But the big question on everyone’s mind is where to go from here. Quinnipiac has faced several incidents of intolerance over the past two years, and all agreed that there is no easy solution.
Thompson referenced QU101 seminars and Student Diversity Board (SDB) events as a starting point, and also spoke of working closely with Student Government Association president Sean Geary in finding methods and solutions.
“It’s a really difficult situation,” Lin said. “It’s not as simple as just promoting diversity–you can’t sell a product by putting it under people’s noses. You have to make it personal. You need the students.”
Vice president of student affairs Lynn Bushnell agreed.
“I’m not going to draw the boundaries, and neither is Quinnipiac,” she said. “The best way to solve this is through continued conversation. The more we talk, the more we set the boundaries ourselves.”

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