Sunday, September 26, 2021

Editorial: Knowledge of others creates tolerance

Sometimes long-lasting issues lose the forefront of our attention, for one reason or another.

Racism continues to permeate modern society, and Plattsburgh State is no exception.

This week in Cardinal Points, opinions editor Chris Burek reported on the state of racism in Plattsburgh.

Specific examples of blatant acts of prejudice were provided by a handful of student sources, which is likely concerning to some who haven’t been paying attention.

Director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism, and Inclusion J.W. Wiley and his colleagues have worked to foster an ongoing conversation on these types of issues among the campus community.

In addition to reaching students in a purely academic setting with a number of classes, the Center has also worked with different organizations on campus, including Residence Life, to assist student leaders lead the charge.

And we feel this has mostly worked: While we aren’t completely there, the idea of acceptance seems to have become accepted.
But what about the incidents that affect students in a real way?

PSUC senior Rodney Ambroise spoke of three specific incidents that have happened to him: one at the beginning of his college career and now a pair near the end.

The first was a drive-by verbal assault. “A car drove by and called me a n—– out the window,” Ambroise recalled.
The more recent attacks came within his own residence hall, which is certainly alarming. Just last week he found a derogatory message written in a third-floor bathroom in Macdonough, and he also spoke of an incident earlier this semester when he heard one of the janitors in his building “call him a n—– outside of his room,” Burek reported.

And yet the most concerning part was still to come: despite bringing the bathroom incident to supportive resources, the issue was still not properly addressed.

That’s a problem. But the question remains: who does this problem fall on?

Junior Alexandria McCalla’s suggestion was probably the best: “We can’t look to people to fix problems for us. We should try to fix them ourselves.”

McCalla was calling on the students to help. The most effective way to bring about change on this campus is uniting as students, not waiting for the administration to solve it for us. Until we form allies across all races and ethnicities on this campus, the problem will continue to flourish.

Obviously, Wiley and the Center do a lot for the community as far as promoting change for the better, but it seems that the people who take the opportunity to learn from him probably aren’t the ones who need it the most.

So how do we get the students who need it most to get that help?

When it comes to getting a college education, there’s certainly more to be gained than just a degree, and becoming that much more cultured and understanding is an important component of that education.

Can there be a change to mandate at least one course under the Center? Perhaps, although a change like that wouldn’t come anytime soon given how long a process like that would take.

But we at Cardinal Points feel that dispelling ignorance — especially within ourselves — is the most effective means to an end.
If change is going to start somewhere, students need to be proactive in amassing that knowledge of understanding others.

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