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Celebrate to unify

Claire Stephens | Thursday, September 6, 2012

While I understand what Johnny Whichard (“Segregation at the Tabernacle, Sept. 3) is trying to say, I think he misunderstands events for particular races and cultures as segregating and dividing students instead of recognizing and celebrating cultures. Nor do I think the events he refers to have made Notre Dame a fragmented, excluding community.
Yes, Notre Dame is not as diverse as it could be. That is something the University and students can change. Advertising Notre Dame more around the world and recruiting more internationally could inform a greater diversity about the University and what is has to offer. Making Notre Dame a place where a greater diversity of people would want to come is an even easier way to reap the benefits of diversity.
I believe the cultural events Whichard refers to are a step in the right direction. They are not meant to be divisive or to label students solely by race or ethnicity, but to celebrate what makes them unique and to welcome them into the Notre Dame family.
Instead of attacking cultural celebrations as racist, it is more important to address the sentiment about diversity on campus in general. When people claim Notre Dame is “too white,” Caucasian students begin to feel like “white” is a bad word, that they are all the same, that they have no distinguishable culture and that the lack of diversity on campus is somehow their fault.
White is not a culture. Though there may be many things the same about white, American or Midwestern students, every white person being labeled as the same is a stereotype that we should fight. (Being Irish, for example, has more cultural significance than just American football, leprechauns and drinking.) We should learn to share and be proud of the cultures behind Caucasians too and celebrate them together alongside the other cultures we celebrate.
I believe the University is doing this with its many cultural events, but students should know that they are encouraged to recognize, celebrate and participate in the cultures of others as well as their own. We are all different, but we are still Notre Dame.
Claire Stephens
Howard Hall
Sept. 4