Saturday, April 01, 2006

Penn Student Admits He's White

Apparently tired of receiving notices for race-specific or ethnic-specific functions, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania pens a column in which he comes out of the closet. He admits, in an open letter to the university counselor who sends him the notices, that he's white.

You invited me to the Wharton Latino Career Conference, but I didn’t come. You invited me to the Minority Internship Panel and the Minority Internship Fair, but I didn’t come. You invited me to an Info Session for students of color, but still I did not come. You even told me of an internship opportunity for Iranian-Americans. I didn’t even know those existed! The point remains though: I did not come.

I have to ask, Aileen: what amalgamation of races did you think I was all this time? Might it have crossed your mind that I was just white, like the vast majority (65 percent) of last year’s incoming class?
I’m not going to enter into a debate over affirmative action here -- I do not want to burden your soul with such political nonsense. Regardless, there is no reason to do so: this is not, and should not, be cast in the light of, an affirmative action issue. This is not a question of opportunities – we are all here at Penn and now have the same prospects for the future, regardless of what came before – this is a question of entitlements. There is no need to single out races and treat students like checkboxes. The point of having a diverse campus is so we don’t have to think about ourselves in terms of race. (emphasis added--Darren)


Another hat tip to John at Discriminations (see blogroll at left).


Loni said...

The point of having a diverse campus is not to blot out race completely. The purpose is to vary what would otherwise be a one-sided education. Race is not a bad thing, neither is being in touch with one's roots. The student needs to learn to cope with diversity; an important aspect of a high quality education is that it introduces new perspectives to those who have until now lived in an area where one culture, and consequently one set of ideals, dominated. If the student is feeling overwhelmed by the number of ethnically focused events, he needs to consider that, as he said, the student body is still 65% white. These misdirected invitations are not meant to insult the white students, but to maintain the valued ethnicity of the university.

Darren said...

You make a lot of assumptions about this man. Would you make the same assumptions about me? Perhaps I should show you my high school yearbook. When I looked at it prior to my 10 year reunion, I was surprised at how many "people of color" there were. We all just hung out together, it wasn't a big deal.

Additionally, I don't think he was "overwhelmed" at the number of ethnic events, I think he was surprised that he was invited to them even though they weren't "for him" at all. I wonder how he'd have been "welcomed" had he attended....

Loni said...

Actually, he probably should consider attending some of them in order to fully reap the benefits of his multi-colored education. My best friend is Indian (one of two at Rio Americano), and I've made a point to attend a few of his religious functions even though I'm the only blonde person in the building and look rather ridiculous in a Sari. Although a degree of feeling out-of-place is expected, they're usually pretty accepting. As for the U-Penn student, It's not that the events aren't "for him" it's that the events aren't "directed" at him. If the represented people felt he was there with good intentions, I don't believe they would act with hostility.
...I'd still get a kick out of seeing your HS yearbook though.