By Letter to the Editor
Upon reading the somewhat misguided article from Mr. Mondschein, I thought it appropriate to at least provide another perspective from a Union alumnus.
While he definitely purports to be “new” to Union, what leaves me scratching my head is his over-simplistic explanation in reference to the malaise in diversity at Union. In other words, he is basing his entire argument that diversity is non-existent at Union because of the finances of African-Americans; and while that might be accurate for some of his readers, it would be very naïve to assume that the aforementioned solely rests on affordability by African-American students.
I applaud him for being audacious to admit that there’s a problem at Union, but he neglects to offer a viable reason behind such an issue. Perhaps, further revelation of that could indicate the reasons behind the current state of affairs at Union.
So, the question still remains: why is Mr. Mondschein’s theory so flawed?
1. He made an analysis without taking into consideration the entire structure at Union (past and present) and whether that would be enough to attract a minority student to Union. In other words, WHAT does Union offer that would make a minority student feel that he/she belongs there?
2. His refusal to call Blacks as African-Americans is sad on one level and unfortunate on another. Perhaps he should realize that the term itself is a nexus to the historical recognition that Africans were illegally taken from their homeland and brought to another shore where they were exposed to extreme brutalities ever known to mankind. Nevertheless, they persevered, and the name simply indicated that they all had a connection to Africa. Thus, his refusal to utilize the word African-American only indicates that he is denying such a historical connection of Africans in America. To have such a mentality at Union could only further provide the reason why diversity at Union is needed with jet like speed.
3. He begins an argument by stating the following: “I am a freshman; I’m not afraid to admit it. I know I have not been around campus long enough to fully understand everything that goes on, but I feel as if I know a solid majority.” Let me take his point further by stating that he has not been around THE WORLD long enough to even qualify as an authority on racial relations. His lack of HOW the world operates might be very myopic and as a result certain broad statements are made which might be very reflective of the environment that nurtured him.
So, rather than just operate under some heavily biased assumptions, perhaps he would be best served by considering the following:
A. Devise an operational definition of “Diversity” and then juxtapose that with the institutional practices at Union. If there is a significant discrepancy between the two, ask the leaders of Union College why that’s the case. Listen to their answers and determine whether that is reflective of modern-day practices in an institution of higher learning.
B. Analyze the practices of affirmative action at Union and deduce from the results whether that could correlate with the demographics that he had put forth for all of us to see. Please remember that when I say Affirmative Action, I am not promoting tokenism or hollow policies that appear legitimate at the surface but pure chicanery upon further examination. Affirmative action here as I see it is to observe the actual spirit of the law and then create a marketing plan tailored to making it a reality. After a period of implementations, the plan is evaluated by various stakeholders and any necessary adjustments are made (without compromising the original intent of the law).
C. Observe the diversity of professors at Union and do a comparative analysis on the frequency of tenure for professors of color. Once that has been conducted, inquire from the leadership at Union as to what aggressive measures are being taken to recruit professors of color ON the tenure track. Again, LISTEN to their answers and see whether it is supportive of diversity (as originally defined by you) or not; after all, you can’t discuss diversity of students at Union if faculty and staff are not diverse as well.
Make no mistake my fellow readers, Mr. Mondschein’s article might be well intended, but he missed the mark by not realizing that the issue of race relations is equivalent to the “third rail” of societal ills. Thus when one begins to take on such a role as to offer explanations for them, it must not only recognize the realities of today, but also past conditions that led to the situations that all of us have to confront at Union nowadays.
Kojo Frank Attah, MS, MBA Class of 1996