Friday, September 29, 2006

Diversity: Why Bother - Opinion article by Dr. Robert Gates, TAMU Prez.

Recently, yet another international grad student was assaulted behind Northgate by some rednecks scared of anything/different than themselves. They see a turban and get offended, much the same way they get offended when they hear someone speaking spanish. Dammit Aggieland, why do there have to be so many ignorant people living there?

Anyway, Dr. Gates (president of TAMU) wrote this in the opinion section of the batt... I thought I'd share...

Every now and then, there is an exchange of opinions in "The Battalion," or I get an email from a student, that reminds me that what I learned in CIA and the White House about diversity as a source of strength has yet to be learned by too many Americans, including some students at Texas A&M.

The belief that a diverse population bound together by a common spirit and shared ideals and principles is a source of great national strength is as old as the American Republic. Look at every coin in your pocket; it carries on it testimony to that belief. "E Pluribus Unum" - One from Many. Its meaning is unambiguous. Our national motto is both an enduring challenge and an enduring promise.

Further, the belief that each and every person has value is the touchstone of our democracy. The role of men and women from every race, ethnic group, nationality, religion and socio-economic background in building and safeguarding America - and in creating our unprecedented prosperity as a people - is the stuff of legend (and of history).

How, then, can anyone argue that exposure to a rich mixture of people and human experience is not an essential part of one's education? Surely a decent education must include getting to know and learn from people from different parts of Texas and the United States, from more than 120 countries, from different economic and social circumstances, from different political and cultural backgrounds, from different religions and yes, from different racial and ethnic groups.

I score pretty low on the "political correctness scale. I believe recognition, privilege - and admission to Texas A&M - should be based solely on personal merit, i.e., earned. And, that is, in fact, our admissions policy.

Accordingly, everyone here deserves to be here and deserves to be treated as a full-fledged member of the Aggie Family. That also means everyone of every background, belief and point of view deserves to be treated with civility.

Accepting diversity as contributing to one's education does not mean everyone has to agree on everything - or even that we all have to like each other. It does mean treating other members of the Aggie Family and our guests on campus with respect. It means making the "Aggie Family," the "campus community," real - not just rhetoric.

In this regard, as I have said before, being part of the Aggie Family also means looking out for each other. Frankly, I'm fed up with one or another our international students - Aggies all - getting assaulted every few months in the Northgate area. We've done a lot to step up police patrols and provide rides to students late at night. And, I refuse to believe that any of our students are the criminals who carry out such acts. I do believe, however, that every Aggie who passes through or lives in Northgate has a responsibility to keep an eye out for and report those who prey on members of our Aggie Family. The only place in Aggieland for these predators is in jail.

My bottom line: when you graduate, you will enter a world full of diversity. Knowing how to interact with and treat people who are different from you will play an important role in determining whether you are successful, whatever your career path. So, take advantage of your time here to learn about that world, make new friends from different backgrounds, learn how to deal with different points of view. That was my world in CIA and the White House. You have the advantage of unlimited opportunity to do that right here in Aggieland.

If you don't agree with what I have said, that is your right. But know this: We will not tolerate intolerance or incivility on this campus. Such behavior is not an Aggie tradition.

Gig 'em Dr. Gates.

From The Batt.

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