Narayan Núñez Blandón – Staff Writer
As an activity for her Diversity and Inequality course, Instructor of Social Work and Criminal Justice, Tara Boer, organized a panel on Tuesday 16th, in which she invited a group of students representing some of the different ethnicities at Dordt College to share their opinion. More than 40 students engaged with the talk and asked questions.
In this particular course, the students are discussing topics such as the white privilege, inequality, prejudice, and discrimination. According to Boer, the panel was organized with the goal of creating more understanding on such issues as well as creating unity and cultural competence among the students.
“Although I understand that cultural competence is emphasized in all courses, I think it’s important to allow students the opportunity to exclusively focus on issues like prejudice, discrimination, and racism both past and present,” Boer said. “I hope that students will recognize their own biases in order to more effectively serve in God’s kingdom. I hope to provide them with opportunities to get out of their comfort zones as I believe that this is where real growth and cultural maturity comes.”
The panelists shared stories in which they have experienced discrimination or prejudice from other individuals, including police officers or other authoritative figures. In addition to their stories, they also provided insight about the common misunderstandings portrayed by media and shared their opinion on the issue.
Many students thought this kind of activity was valuable. Cailee Veenstra, sophomore social work major, expressed her opinion.
“I think that the panel was incredibly meaningful: a lot of students are aware that they need to be more culturally sound, but we don’t always know how,” she said, “Because of this panel, we were able to ask any questions we had to those of different ethnicities.”
Although she is not a member of the class, Fanny Gonzalez, senior student from Mexico, appreciated the panel.
“I’m glad I could go and hear what other people in a similar situation as mine go through”, Gonzalez said, “I was glad to learn Dordt offers classes that address topics such as diversity and that are trying to make students think about it and hopefully promote social equality and acceptance”.
Boer pointed out that providing students with this type of opportunities could add value to their professional lives.
“A lot of students have grown up in very homogenous neighborhoods and have had limited opportunities to build relationships with people whom belong to different races, ethnicities and cultures”, Boer said, “This can sometimes create a disconnect from other cultures and ultimately cause discomfort when interacting with them”.
Some international students who were in the panel talked about the misconceptions and misunderstandings that they hear about their countries. They shared their frustration when they encounter other individuals who make false assumptions and do not let them engage in conversations regarding domestic politics and healthcare-related issues because they are from a different countries.
The Diversity and Inequality course (SOC/SOWK 216 / CORE 276) prepares students to embrace cultural difference among the different ethnicities. In addition, it informs students about the current issues regarding diversity and inequality in North American. They cover topic such as immigration, the role of women in society, gays and lesbians, poverty, health care and others.