Opinion

Cultural curiosity enriching, not offensive

The University of Miami student body is a mosaic of nationalities, faiths and life experiences.

While the diversity can be enriching, it can also be intimidating to face for students coming from more homogeneous backgrounds.

Intuitively, we feel comfortable being around people who appear to look and think like ourselves. It requires deliberate effort to branch out and learn about others who seem different.

However, reaching out to make that connection can be rewarding and educational. In a campus as diverse as ours, we will inevitably encounter concepts that seem foreign or odd to us.

Rather than making automatic assumptions and judgments about those concepts, it is healthier to simply ask.

Students have the ability to act as ambassadors for their particular backgrounds and cultures, but this is only if others take the initiative to be curious. Those wearing religious garbs, for example, discuss in this issue how outsiders may make assumptions about their religious or cultural identity without truly understanding the significance of a piece of clothing.

Curiosity and coexistence should not exclude each other. Aggressive or presumptuous questions can alienate people. However, we should not be afraid of making respectful and candid inquiries to learn more about others.

We also cannot take these learning opportunities for granted.

In other places, the very ability to appreciate differences within a community is subdued.

France, for example, has passed laws claimed to promote security and secularity that limit religious garbs.

A law passed in 2004 bans wearing any “conspicuous religious symbols” to public schools, including veils, turbans and head scarves, and another passed in 2010 bans face coverings in public spaces, including burqas.

As a result, constructive inquiries about these religious and cultural customs are quieted.

It is better to make room for genuine inquiry and increase understanding than to stifle natural curiosities and harbor inaccurate assumptions. Within people’s differences one may find something more familiar than expected.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

March 25, 2015

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It was a good day for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team. They moved up to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 ...

Erykah Davenport and Shaneese Bailey made key plays back-to-back late in the game and four players s ...

1. MARLINS: Jeter's Fish trade Gordon. Stanton next?: While others spend -- like the Angels to ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday: ▪ With the first ever early signing period just two we ...

University of Miami coach Mark Richt and Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst sat on a stage poolside at the ...

Seeking a college experience within a diverse community, this graduate found her home away from home ...

Graduating with Comedic Timing ...

The top graduate from UM's School of Education and Human Development shines in the classroom. ...

‘Part-Time Junior’ Sculpts Her Way to a B.F.A. ...

Students in University of Miami’s School of Communication’s Orange Umbrella Student Consultancy garn ...

Hurricanes earn highest ranking since March 2013. ...

Walker IV recorded a career-high 26 points, seven rebounds in the win over Boston U. ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team earned an impressive 65-54 win over No. 20/23 K ...

Miami senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios, a double major in finance and entrepreneurship, was name ...

After its longest break of the season thus far, the University of Miami women's basketball team ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.