(Featured photo: An aerial view of University of Maryland, College Park)
Thoughts from one of the Real Girls
At the University of Maryland, I would say that we are a diverse school that allows underrepresented individuals a safe place to have a voice and feel accepted. We have numerous clubs that stress inclusivity and diversity, as well as specific offices on campus, like the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education, that act as outreach for minorities to have support while attending the university. In addition, our president, Wallace Loh, is both Asian and an immigrant to the United States, yet his credentials are substantial, proving that minorities can challenge institutionalized oppression. Despite all of this, though, our university can do much more.
Our university, and probably many other universities and businesses, is guilty of continuing a type of oppression that has been normalized in society. This means that the institution in which we live oppresses individuals intentionally or unintentionally because that is was we know as the societal norm– this is known as institutionalized oppression. Since my first year here at UMD, I’ve realized that the workers in the dining halls are predominantly people of color (POC), as are the individuals who clean our dorms, libraries, and classrooms. While some may argue that the university is employing those who need jobs, it’s important to recognize that the demographics of individuals that fill these jobs are similar—they are consistently POC. It is a problem that the jobs that these individuals occupy are often the tedious, less desirable jobs that many would never take. We need to recognize that although our school may stress diversity, inclusivity, and equality for all, our institutional hierarchy needs to reflect these same goals before we can expect change from our nation.