Posts Tagged ‘Diversity’

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Fashion is often criticized for its lack of diversitywhether it be on the runways or off. That reputation is well-earned when considering the absence of people of non-European descent in the industry. Models are often an easy way to gauge race representation simply because the backgrounds and origins of the models are known and it is easily quantitative.

Considering the end of the year is approaching, every industry attempts to quantify its successes, failures and advances. In fashion, those lists consider the best looks of the year, the most notable moments, the best and worst trends, emerging talents and controversies. Recently, while stumbling upon one of these lists on Fashionista, the topic was diversity among Vogue cover models.

According to the site, “22 percent of Vogue cover subjects were non-white,” which only points to the fact that the other 78 percent were occupied by white models. And it gets worse: amongst the 22 percent, the majority were of non-European or American Vogue editions. Therefore, most non-white cover models were featured on their country’s editions of Vogue (India, China, Taiwan, etc.). Great.

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One of the things I’ve noticed in my years at Syracuse University thus far is that more and more students of Asian descent have been coming to our school. It’s interesting because I’ve heard that just six or seven years ago, Asians were a bit of a rarity at SU. Since our campus now promotes and literally displays diversity all around, I thought that many people would be more aware and open-minded of the multiculturalism on our campus. But I guess I was wrong.

Just this past weekend, I was walking with a couple of my Asian friends on Euclid when a, possibly intoxicated, group of Americans called out to us, automatically labeled us as “Chinese” and mimicked what Chinese people supposedly sound like. Note that this has happened MANY times, not just this past weekend. Most of the time, we just let it go because they’re an ignorant mess. But I thought it’s about time I stand up for myself and my other Asian friends on this campus and address these sorts of situations.

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My first blog post “Chancy Nancy vs. U.S. News” was a condemnation of U.S. News & World Report’s College Rankings. My position was that U.S. News’s rankings system is flawed and that no college should try and sell its institution to a magazine. Last week, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Syracuse’s Slide” referenced Syracuse University’s decline in the national rankings. The article also described Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s increased financial commitment to the city of Syracuse, academics and research, and student diversity and selectivity. The article highlighted some of the controversies surrounding Chancy Nancy’s tenure here as well as criticism and praise from the school’s faculty.

One student here at SU posted the article on Facebook and, as a result, it garnered many responses from SU students. The students expressed how they felt about SU’s ranking and status as well as the initiatives by Chancy Nancy to increase the university’s role in the community and diversity at SU. While there were a variety of opinions concerning all of these issues, SU students did not disregard each other’s viewpoints, but rather expressed their sentiments in a mature and civil manner.

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Imagine if there were classes in which you could discuss race, gender and sexual orientation AND receive three credits. Well, there is such a class here at Syracuse. The Intergroup Dialogue is three-credit course in which students engage in discussions about race, gender and sexual identity and how these issues are relevant to our campus. I enrolled in the class about race and ethnicity, and for the past four weeks, I’ve taken on new perspectives about race and ethnicity here in the United States. This is not only because of what has been discussed by the class facilitators, but also by my fellow Syracuse students. The intergroup dialogue was initiated and supported by Chancellor Nancy Cantor for several reasons.

Unfortunately, Syracuse University is one of the most segregated college campuses in America and many faculty, students, and alumni see this as a problem because Syracuse is also one the most ethnically diverse campuses in the nation. From the quad to Bird Library to Greek life, the racial and ethnic divide on this campus is rather transparent. But an issue such as race and ethnicity can be difficult to talk openly about.

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