news Sports Opinions arts variety interact Wildcat On-Line QuickNav

What diversity has done lately

By Erynn Masi de Casanova
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 22, 1999
Send comments to:

To the editor,

I have just re-read, experiencing the same disgust I did with the first reading, Dan Cassino's commentary printed in the February 18 issue. His disclaimer says it all - many people are offended by this article.

The fact that Cassino questions the value of multiculturalism in institutions I do not, and cannot take issue with. Each person is entitled to his or her opinion, and they are also entitled to attempt to persuade others to share these beliefs. In a college newspaper, I would expect such an argument to be presented in a logical fashion, including pros and cons and defending the position taken by the author. Not so with this article.

I object to the "evidence" (and I use the term as loosely as possible) presented by Mr. Cassino with the intention of supporting his argument that multicultural concerns are worthless. He uses two examples: the U.S. military and a university classroom.

According to Mr. Cassino, the military, which has a greater percentage of those abhorrent cultural and racial minorities (gasp!) than the nation as a whole, is not an example of the possible efficiency of multicultural ideals. Instead, people are somehow relieved of their cultural background and identity as their heads are shaved in boot camp.

What?? As the spouse of a United States Marine of Latin American descent, I can say that no one has sucked the "individual culture" out of my husband. He is proud of his background and of being a Marine. Being Latino does not make him or those with whom he works any less effective.

The second illustration presented by Mr. Cassino is equally nonsensical, but also incredibly dangerous if his line of reasoning is followed to its logical conclusion. Diversity in the classroom is opposed on the grounds that it may make those of the dominant culture (such as the author of this commentary) uncomfortable.

So segregation really made sense all along; how silly of us to think otherwise. Let's just go right back to the good old days of "separate but equal" lest anyone become UNCOMFORTABLE with the person sitting next to them in class.

What has multiculturalism done for me lately? Well, it has allowed me to interact with and become friends with people who are not clones of myself, it has allowed me to be taught by professors who approach Anglo-American culture not as a "sacred cow" but as something to be examined critically, and it has reminded me that not everyone in this world has light skin and blue eyes like me. And if experiences like that make Mr. Cassino uncomfortable, well then so be it. He's obviously got a lot to learn.

Erynn Masi de Casanova
Latin American Studies graduate student