Archive for April, 2012

Barriers to Break

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

Barriers to Break

Jody Lykes is a student development coordinator for the diversity cultural center at the University of Nevada Reno.

Discrimination against different ethnic groups, culture, age, gender, sexual preference, religion is a problem still prevalent in the United States.

“The outcome that we have for our children won’t just fall into place. They haven’t because someone hasn’t sat down and said let’s make this happen. In order to overcome it, we have to intentionally reconstruct, tear apart, and break down the intentional racism that still exists,” said Lykes.

Even a black president of mixed descent can’t halt the idiocy of a group of people who can’t see past the differences common among everyone.

Often times when people think of racism or discrimination, some individuals tend to blindly associate that with people of Caucasian descent. This is a flawed thought process that is a form of stereotyping in itself.

“White racism is embraced by some black leadership. Perpetrating white racism and embracing it can be just as effective as being racist,” said Lykes.

“You can’t really find out who is on whose side, because if you only trust someone who is black only because they’re black, they may be more racist than the accused white man.”

Some students on campus feel like there is some form of negative perception of them on campus, whether being profiled when walking inside a store or building, or whether it comes to receiving negative forms of treatment from campus police, or even from the professors on campus.

But with the invention of the Cultural Center of Diversity, which has blossomed in recent years holding seminars and events for various groups of students, there is progress being made and much more to make.

“I think there can be discrimination I don’t know if I have experienced it personally, but I think it’s mainly targeted against a group of people with different ethnic backgrounds.

“I don’t know if it’s direct towards one or two people, but it definitely exists,” Cultural Center Director Aracelli Martinez said.

“I think there may be more incidents with the Latino and black community. The Native American community is the smallest group on campus; they may feel there are more people against them.”

Even though some of the students of different ethnic backgrounds may feel the heat because of their difference in skin complexion and look, Martinez feels people with same sex preference are making strides in regards to equality and openness of the live style they choose to live.

“Personally I haven’t noticed any discrimination against the gay community; I think that over the years they have been getting more comfortable in terms of being on campus,” said Martinez.

“Before it was a lot less common for them to be open about it and to have open meetings, now I think they’re more comfortable and have more resources.”

With that said, UNR is making strides as far as making an effort to enroll more people from different ethnic backgrounds and the Cultural Center of Diversity is here to help students excel in school.

There is also a program, The Pride Collaborative, which is a program that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer community and their allies through promoting acceptance and understanding here UNR and in Northern Nevada.

There is an increasing rate of students from various ethnic backgrounds enrolling at the UNR in recent years. Here is an excerpt from the Annual Report of the Cultural Center from 2011:

“Since 2002, the leadership of the University of Nevada Reno established a goal of 25% of the student body to come from historically underrepresented populations in higher education by the fall semester of 2012. Fall enrollment numbers indicate that we met this goal a full two years ahead of the goal with 24.6% of the student body in fall 2010 and exceeded the goal in fall 2011 with 26% of the student body coming from underrepresented populations.”

While efforts are being made to promote minority students on campus with the cultural center and all the different groups, it appears to some people there are a ways to go and the problem is still in existence.

“For me with this school, when I see something that is happening against the black student, I’ll go to the teacher and talk to them about the student, go to an appeal hearing. I don’t know why it is set up like that, there doesn’t seem like there is an easy answer.”

“It isn’t in your face, you’re in this place because you’re black, it’s more subtle than that. Some won’t get financial aid,” said Lykes.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the students to come together and make a difference,” said UNR Alum Gianna Giorgi.

With an increase of minority students increasing each year, there are more clubs and organizations being brought in to help students of different backgrounds try to find solace on campus and feeling comfortable around fellow students.

The administration on campus can only do so much, but it will be interesting to see if more progress will be made in the future.