Cultural clubs are not progressive

By Uriel Gonzalez

We see people who look like we do and we gravitate toward them, it’s natural, it’s primal and it’s lazy.

Students often preach about unity and acceptance for all people, one would think that means their less hyper focused on superficialities.

“These clubs that claim the diversity are not diverse at all, because if you walk into the API (Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center) obviously they promote other cultures and everyone worldwide, unity, but you walk in there and there is only one kind of people in there,” said Media Director of the Vietnamese Student Association and CPP student, Quang Nguyen.

Although they are voluntary, ethnic clubs on campus, like the Mexican-American Student Association (MASA), the African American Student Center and so on, create racial boundaries and defeat the purpose of attending a university.

One of the greatest advantages of attending a university is gaining the experience of interacting with all kinds of people, regardless of ethnic background or gender, just like real life. These clubs allow students to more easily alienate themselves from the rest of the student population by allowing them to exclusively mingle with others who look and think like them.

A common assumption about ethnic clubs is they help create a more diverse university environment. These cultural centers do the exact opposite. If you define diversity as grouping people based on nothing other than geographical ancestry, appearance and cultural beliefs then you’re beyond help.

I’m not denying that these clubs do in fact help certain students nor am I saying that these ethnic clubs should be banned, but I do think they should be more transparent about their purpose on campus. They should be open about the fact that they do not help promote diversity at all, and that they are, for the most part, social clubs where membership is reliant arbitrarily on race.

Sure, it is important to embrace your roots, where your ancestors come from, but it shouldn’t be a primary determining factor for making social connections; defining your social circle based on the accumulated accomplishments and mating patterns of dead people is silly.

These clubs’ mission statements share a common theme, they all claim to support all Cal Poly Pomona students and emphasize multicultural competency. They disingenuously hide behind their claims to serve anyone who may be interested regardless of race, yet the emphasis of these clubs is no secret.

In attempt to justify their existence, proponents of ethnic clubs tend to point out that these organizations help immigrants; this is only partially true. These clubs offer help and advice to international students, but only those immigrant students who fit into their racial-cultural mold.

It is highly unlikely a Bangladeshi exchange student would seek or receive help at MASA. I’m sure they would say they would help, but it is daunting to seek the help of an organization where the building and the surrounding area is only littered with people who look very much the same, and the walls are plastered with the words “Mexican-American Student Association.”

If you deconstruct the practical purpose of any of these clubs, their hypocrisy becomes instantly transparent. Veiled behind the guise of acceptance and righteousness, social cowards lazily cling to the primal comfort of being surrounded by familiar faces.

In most other clubs, members meet because they share common interests. They can decide whether they like these things voluntarily. For example, anyone can choose to like Harry Potter and join Dumbledore’s Army, or most other clubs. You can’t choose to be born into a certain race. It is a biological roll of the dice.

These groups embrace and prioritize people’s superficiality over their character. These are primitive, tribal ways of creating relationships and should be seen for what they are, archaic.

These clubs contribute to polarization, putting people into groups, reinforcing a racial “us versus them” mentality, whether they see it or not. When people are seen as different they’re easier to

dehumanize and demonize; this leads to less rational debate, hindering the progression of good ideas.

An organization is actually diverse if it is racially neutral. A diverse club invites all students without any perceived bias. Something as trivial as one’s ethnicity should be embraced to an extent, but not used as your defining characteristic. What makes you valuable, as a human should not be left to chance. We should be wary of limiting ourselves because of uncontrollable factors. People are great and awful regardless of ancestry; don’t be limited because of yours.

Ethnic clubs on campus create racial boundaries and defeat the purpose of attending a university

Valerie Mancia / The Poly Post

Ethnic clubs on campus create racial boundaries and defeat the purpose of attending a university

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