Before I begin, I would like to clarify one thing: I don’t claim to have any ownership in the conversation on diversity. I recognize the fact that there are many groups of people on campus who are more insightful it comes to this issue. I must stress that I do not wish to take anything away from the need for diversity for minority students. My goal is not to control the conversation but rather to be allowed to be a participant. With that being said, I think that by explaining my story of how a conservative like myself came to be a diversity supporter, that I would be contributing to the diversity conversation in a positive manner.
Growing up, my parents deeply valued hard work, strong work ethic and being a good person. In school, I was the kid who sat next to those who had no one to sit with and the first person to help the kid who just got his books knocked out of his hands. All throughout my childhood and adolescence (and still today) I have tried to be an accurate representation of the values my parents upheld and I these values mean a great deal with me.
When I developed my political beliefs, I applied my values toward choosing a party, and I realized I was a conservative. Strong moral judgement and family values are two things that truly matter to me, and I feel that I am more authentic to myself as a conservative. But through this, one area that I’ve been consistently frustrated with conservatives on has been diversity.
I’ve always been annoyed by the fact that there are no serious vocal proponents of diversity in the conservative field, as I hear constant badgering by Republicans who argue that diversity practices are a quota system, but if you ask me, they’re missing the point. For me, I believe that an important function of diversity is to effectively bring in as many students as possible who are diverse in thought. Diversity of opinion or thought is an important protection toward individualism, which is an essential principle in conservatism. Having all different types of opinions, through diversity, is an essential benefit towards any institution and by understanding the less-visible components of diversity, we are able to see the entirety of diversity’s benefits, and therefore expand our campus’ ability to think differently.
A great analogy on understanding diversity comes from Brook Graham, a diversity consultant group. They say that diversity is an iceberg in the ocean. In this theory, what we see on top of the water, while easily visible, is still just a very small percentage of the entire iceberg. Following this logic, what lies underneath the water (of the hypothetical iceberg) makes up the majority of the iceberg in total. In translation, diversity practices are often viewed as being about only visible characteristics, such as race, but upon deeper examination, it becomes clear that diversity offers so much more than that. Yes, diversity practices help to recruit students of different races, genders and sexual orientations. However, these same students also bring different perspectives, political views and life experiences, to name a few, to our campus. Anyone with a rational sense of thought would have to agree with that.
When I began to do some research on diversity, I quickly realized that my understanding on this complex issue was quite limited and that I had to learn about it on a deeper level before I could make any sort of judgement. The research I went through explained the U.S.’s long history of racism and mistreatment towards minority groups more thoroughly than what I’ve ever been exposed to in school. The literature I read also explained that diversity is necessary because of the disadvantages that minority students face, which are disadvantages that majority students would never have to deal with. All of this made sense to me, and by combining my personal understanding of diversity with my newfound research, I’ve come to the conclusion that by promoting diversity on campus, we would be promoting individualism in thought, which is essential towards conservatism.