For the first two weeks in September, California State University at Chico will host five “multicultural welcome receptions” so that students can “network, make friends and build alliances.” The receptions, sponsored by the Office of Diversity, are separately for black, Native American, GLBT, Asian, and Hispanic students. Refreshments will be provided.
But we are not refreshed. Where are the “white welcome receptions” and “straight welcome receptions”? If anyone were to attempt to throw these kinds of events, they would be reviled as racist and heterosexist discrimination, or even oppression. Yet throw a party for a racial or sexual orientation group, and it’s a chance to “build alliances.”
“Alliances” is a term we hear often these days in conjunction with identity groups whose supporters are called “allies”—as if all others are “enemies.” Stay tuned for more from NAS on this. In any case, these networks and alliances will not be very broad if encouraged only within identity groups.
The CSU Chico Office of Diversity states on its website, “Chico State values diversity. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment where students, faculty, and staff can succeed and thrive. Together we can foster a climate that acknowledges and celebrates the differences that define who we are.”
Do differences really define who we are? If so, then Chico State’s “welcoming environment” only extends so far. Clearly there are students not served by the diversity office. They are defined by their whiteness or straightness—how welcome are they?