EDITORIAL: Inclusion campaign is first step in unity
U. efforts attempt to foster new thinking on campus
This past summer the Rutgers community set out to create a campaign that would ignite a sense of individuality among each student as well as foster an environment that is inclusive to everyone on campus.
This inclusion campaign, listed beneath the Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives page on the Rutgers Student Affairs website, is focusing on creating a “learning environment that serves as a melting pot of ideas and cultures … to enhance cross-cultural understanding, break down stereotypes, improve self awareness and prepare our students to be stronger, richer and more dynamic citizens.” And to do this, the campaign is centered on each student’s right to be an active member of the University community. In the touching and inspirational video for the campaign, students of different backgrounds, sexualities and faiths speak about the discrimination they have faced in their lives. The students then each say that they are “committed” to creating an environment at Rutgers where everyone is included and cared about.
Part of this initiative is the featured #RUIDProject, which showcases the diversity that Rutgers fosters among its students. Rutgers students, who wish to share their stories and experiences, including ways in which the University has changed and impacted their lives, contributed to this initiative.
Although this inclusion campaign is in full-effect by this time of the year, it is hard to imagine that some students are not looking at the campaign with some hesitation considering everything that has been happening around the University this year. From posters advocating for white supremacy being posted around the campuses to a Rutgers professor being investigated for anti-Semitic posts online, it is difficult for one to believe that this campaign is not achieving what it hopes to. Those who might express these concerns must look at the University community and face the realities that we live in.
The University is doing all that it can to send the message that it is intolerant of any discrimination or prejudice. It has issued statements condemning certain actions, and with initiatives such as this inclusion campaign, it is trying its best to foster an inclusive environment. But the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day there is only so much that the University can do.
With the series of messages and posters promoting hate found on campus, it is becoming clear that there are people on campus (or who have come to campus) that are not champions of inclusion and diversity. They feed off of a political ideology that encourages a hegemonic mindset that works against anyone who might be different. And for someone who has grown up on these ideals, it is difficult to open your mind to anything else. But does this mean that Rutgers should stop these initiatives and statements just because it probably will not deter these people? Of course not.
Rutgers must continue to handle discrimination as it does despite the fact that it might not change those with mindsets of extreme opposition to inclusion. They must do this because not only does it send the message that the University will be just as steadfast as these people, but also because initiatives like this can possibly make someone who is neutral lean toward new ideas regarding these matters. If someone who may not necessarily have been exposed to ideas of diversity and inclusion constantly sees the University fighting for these things, they might be more inclined to understand why these aspects are so important to the Rutgers community. And even though people’s minds might not change, at least those in support of diversity will come together even stronger.