Next week, the UC Patio will showcase a variety of cultural celebrations for International Week, an annual event hosted by the Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO). International Week, or I-Week, is one of many university-sponsored programs that encourage multicultural exposure on campus.
I-Week will bring students together to the patio with lively music, exciting performances and, of course, free food. But after the week is over, and after the tents have disappeared, will the students walk away with a lasting appreciation and interest in other cultures, ethnicities and races?
There’s no question that the university’s administration and student organizations make deliberate efforts to celebrate diversity through well-publicized programs such as I-Week, Multicultural Week, Black Awareness Month and Cuban Heritage Week. Despite these events, less attention has been directed toward facilitating ground-level intermingling among student groups.
Though the Hurricane’s survey results reveal moderate intermingling between students, the personal testimonies featured in this issue show that meaningful friendships and interactions between racial groups are still lacking.
Who is then responsible for bridging the gap between learning and daily practice?
Institutional measures can only direct the student mindset so far. Students still need to proactively form connections with their peers and break down barriers to meaningful interactions.
One such barrier is the tendency for students of the same racial and ethnic backgrounds to stick together. This grouping behavior not only insulates students and discourages branching out to others, but also intimidates individuals outside of the group who do not share common racial and ethnic threads.
Making social inroads as an obvious outsider is difficult. One-on-one interactions between students may be better suited for making diverse connections less influenced by racial differences.
The closeness of residential life on campus can facilitate these interactions – if students take advantage of the environment. Living on campus may be one of the only times that we will be surrounded by such a diverse group of individuals and opportunities to intermingle with other peers, as long as we keep our eyes peeled.
Common ground provides substance to any relationship, and often the most visible commonality influences our behaviors more than they should. However, when personal interactions and interest-based activities reveal that we do have significant common foundations with people who look different from us, it becomes easier to build strong and sustainable connections that are blind to racial lines.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.