Living, breathing diversity

Christopher Bellotti

Tolerance was once a word that meant being open-minded and proactive in an attempt to understand others. Now, it has become synonymous with gross negligence and complacency. To remedy this, “tolerance” must be abandoned by our student body because it’s holding us all back.

It’s important to celebrate Villanova’s many recent accomplishments, such as doubling the percentage of our student body that is considered multicultural and developing our diversity peer education program. Both Rev. Edmund Dobbin, O.S.A., and University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., as well as a majority of administrators, are committed to improving Villanova’s biggest drawback: a lack of diversity. The problem? All of these strides – and strides are all they are – have been put into place by people other than Villanova students.

To the majority of students, diversity and multiculturalism are good causes that we should tolerate because, “We’re not racist or anything.” That said, it is also good to accept multicultural students into our clubs, but, you know, “We shouldn’t lower our standards or anything.” Ignorant statements like these are exactly why we need to abandon tolerance. They also serve as great examples of what we should not tolerate.

What is the point of tolerance, anyway? We all know that it means we should accept of people even if they are different. So, it’s okay to not like said people, as long as we “accept” them – aka letting them do their own thing.

But who are “we” to be accepting of “them”? Where is the diversity there?

Promoting diversity gets confused with simply not being racist or, for that matter, not being outwardly racist, even though it’s much more than that. Diversity is a perspective in action – a sharing of ideas and cultures with others in order to learn, experience and grow as a community. The more diverse a community is, the more that community has to offer – just like any business or institution that has ever existed. Why? People of different backgrounds bring something fundamentally unique to the table, especially at a place like Villanova that is obviously dominated by one culture.

Being accepting or tolerant just doesn’t cut it. We need to live and breathe diversity rather than believe that we, as a student body, have accomplished something by being 20 percent multicultural. Complacency and negligence by most of the student body can give way to outward racism, which we have seen on more than one occasion in the past couple of years. Vandalized doors, bathrooms and many other things are indicative of an unvigilant community. Sure, we disapprove of it when it happens, but what measures do we take as students to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

In reality, we don’t take any. We pass it off as an unfortunate event that occurs at every school. This is certainly true, but given the stereotypes Villanova receives (and perpetuates), we aren’t afforded the proverbial “get-out-of-jail-free” card. We can’t mess up like that here. We cannot afford a single setback.

It is necessary for us to be intolerant of a non-diverse campus. Being negligent or seeing it as someone else’s problem is just as bad, if not worse, than working against it. It’s time we take a look in a mirror.

This is no time to get complacent. The administration can only do so much; it’s our turn.

Speak up, Villanova.

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Christopher Bellotti is a sophomore accounting major from Long Island, N.Y. He can be reached at [email protected]