My classes at Quinnipiac are populated mostly by freshman. I have noticed in the past a phenomenon that occurs every year, usually around November 1. Students will start to think of the Quinnipiac campus as their home. They have a new set of friends and a new outlook on education and on life in general.
This year feels a little different. This year the atmosphere seems cloudier.
Most Quinnipiac students come from the United States. Whatever positive things one can say about our country, it cannot be denied that bigotry and hate are unfortunate pieces of our history and heritage. Myself, I am a fifty-two year old white Irish-American male (1/4 Cherokee, but that is a long story) and in my lifetime I have been both the victim of and participant in bigoted behavior. This is America; you eat, drink and breathe it every day. We all have a little bit of this inside us. We will not get better by denying it, but by acknowledging and addressing it.
There have been some widely publicized ‘acts of hate’ on campus; there are also many little ‘acts of hate’ that occur all the time, from outright slurs to showing disrespect to people of a different gender, ethnic origin, or just a different ability level. All of these things weigh on a community. There comes a time when this just has to stop and the time is now. The time has come for each of us to begin by looking in a mirror and deciding to change. The trick is not to be perfect, but to be better. We begin by treating everyone a little bit better, with more concern and respect, and we magically find people paying us the same courtesy.
What can faculty do? Simple, let the students know you care. I appeal to all faculty members in all disciplines and classes, full-time and part-time, to take five minutes out of a class before the end of the semester and just talk to your class. Stop being the professor and speak from the heart. This is our home too. We want everybody to feel like they belong and are safe and welcome here. In the past maybe we have been a bit too complacent, but that is the not the case anymore. Whether scientists, writers, philosophers, lawyers, etc., we as faculty all came to Quinnipiac primarily to be educators, and now it is time to fully grasp what that means. For many of us, our first job will be to educate ourselves. Each of us has a responsibility that goes far beyond the specific content of our classes.
Students should be encouraging and patient with their teachers; these are not easy topics to discuss. Student organizations can take time out of the meetings to discuss these very some things.
In the end we cannot rely on any individual or group of individuals to bring about a significant change. We all rely on every single one of us to make this a community, to make Quinnipiac University what it is supposed to be. Happy Holidays.
Professor of Mathematics