Creating conversation on college cultural issues

Hannah Michalowski, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Jorg Vlanden took to the Old Main Ballroom on Feb. 29 to discuss his studies on straight white college men and the issue involving diversity.

Throughout time, straight white men have been predominant in all aspects of life as the ones who speak out first. The problem here is that with dominance comes arrogance: in this case, arrogance against anyone considered a minority. Vlanden addressed these issues during his conference and offered up several different ways to tackle them head on. He admitted that his targeted audience was not those of color, those of the lgbtq community, or even women, but instead straight white males, both college students and faculty. During his study he found that some straight white males do realize there is an issue in their community but are either too afraid to speak out or don’t know how.

“I want to thank you for providing a framework that can help allow straight white men a more positive way to engage with the issue. I can’t speak for all, only myself, but I think some of the personal resistance is that there’s a desire to be helpful but you’re not sure what the proper approach would be that would be perceived as helpful,” Greg Cook, Vice Provost-Academic Affairs, said.

While some straight white males do realize the issue, others find themselves as victims or simply do not think diversity influences them. Vlanden explained how campuses, especially primarily white colleges, need to take a step back and find a way to integrate more diversity courses so that everyone can get hands on experience with the overwhelming issue. No, he doesn’t mean taking a German language course to stand for a diversity credit, but one where we address the problem with diversity here in the United States.

Interesting enough, there are straight white males who want to stick up to their peers when they hear derogatory words being used, but they are afraid of the repercussions. During Vlanden’s study, he found those that those who have called out others when using such terms, received just as negative comments towards them in return. He challenged these men who are speaking out to keep doing so and eventually the change will be seen.

“We are integrating [straight white men] into that mindset that hopefully the rest of the friend group takes on. We begin to see the negative comments then dissipate over time,” Jorg Vlanded said.

As a campus community, many people do not want to admit that there is an issue here on the Whitewater campus but there is. It may not be as severe as in other areas, but it very well might be at the same time, just depends on who is asked. Hopefully the diversity workshops that took place this week allow people to take some time and think deeply about what they see and hear around them.

“It is a lot of mental reflection and taking time and observing for yourself cause you can’t talk for everybody and so it really takes the personal growth,” Katrina Granberg, Warhawk ambassador said.

Jorg Vlanden challenges straight white men to not be afraid to talk about diversity, instead make it a daily conversation and over time positive changes will be seen.