Thursday, September 23, 2004


Word on the street has it that in the negotiations about the proposed Multicultural Center, some people are suggesting that the center should only be available to groups relating to underrepresented minorities on campus. Not even Chinese or Korean or general Asian groups would be part of this underrepresented distinction. There are so many things wrong with this idea.

First, some background. About five years ago many of the etnic studies departments on campus went on strike, and in the negotiations, one of the concessions on behalf of the university was that one day the campus would have a Multicultural Center. The current proposition has the MC Center replacing Heller Lounge, on ASUC property.

I admittedly don't know many of the details about the proposed center, but the idea of limiting access is very wrong (and dare I say offensive, if that's your game) for at least two big reasons. First, restricting the center to only underrepresented minorities (everybody but east Asian and non-ethnic student groups, I guess?) implies that the path to equality is paved with exclusion. Second, this proposition implies that non-ethnically underrepresented student groups are not capable of appreciating or supporting multiculturalism.

Then of course there are plain old logistial problems with the logic of exclusion. Very saliently, what constitutes "underrepresented"? Is this based on campus representation versus state population? In that case, white people are underrepresented (30% of campus versus about 47% of California population.) Or is this based on a visceral reaction against whites and east Asians?

I'd like to learn more about this proposition and the people behind it. More as I find it out.


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