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The United Minorities Council welcomes critical perspectives, such as Ashwin Shandilya’s “Pushing diversity too Far,” (3/25/10). Such perspectives are a flashpoint for discussing diversity and allow us to address contrasting views about our efforts. We agree with Shandilya’s claim that numerically based methods for promoting diversity are tokenism. We further agree that debates surrounding pedagogy and related topics should avoid becoming racial in nature.

However, the UMC’s efforts are not numerical — nor do we champion shameless “race-card” pulling. We disagree with Shandilya regarding the Working Group on Minorities in Undergraduate Education. Their report provided suggestions to enable better experiences for all students. Additionally, though the PULSE survey revealed 64 percent of black students feel comfortable at Penn, 36 percent do not. We believe this is unacceptable.

The UMC’s mission is interculturalism. We work for equality for everyone, regardless of identity. A community that acknowledges all creates a better environment for everyone, regardless of background. Only then is Penn truly an intercultural environment.

Most importantly, our efforts have made tangible change on campus that all can appreciate from improved relations with Penn’s Division of Public Safety to Du Bois College House’s renovations. Yet, have we pushed diversity too far? We’re not pushing diversity, but bridges of cultural understanding.

Jacqueline Chaudhry

The author is a College junior and vice chairwoman of UMC. ASIAN PACIFIC STUDENT COALITION

Ashwin Shandilya wrote about how minorities at Penn are being “overzealous about diversity.” He asks if there was a recent wave of discrimination that he had missed.

To answer his question, no, he did not miss a recent wave of discrimination. We are used to living a life where everyone appears satisfied, but remember there exists an American tradition of systematic marginalization. It’s crucial to be aware of the racial disparities on this campus.

To us, diversity is not a nebulous ideal that we use to legitimize our interests. There are real inequalities on this campus that need to be addressed. That is why we collaborated with other coalitions to put on the presidential debate. Perhaps Shandilya heard something that he did not agree with, but the debate served as an open forum. The Asian Pacific Student Coalition’s questions dealt specifically with mental health disparities and supporting Asian American and South Asian Studies. Indeed, not being able to learn about our history is something that minorities — including Shandilya — have to “go through,” which is why it was central to hear the candidate’s opinions on these affairs. Whether or not the debate was important to him as an individual is not nearly as important as whether the opportunity exists for the nearly 2,500 Asian American students on Penn’s campus.

Marginalization is not a binary up to an individual’s judgment, but rather a system applied to a population.

Rohan Gover and Bonny Tsang

The authors are a Wharton junior and APSC chairman and a College junior and APSC vice chairwoman of political affairs. LATINO COALITION Ashwin Shandilya suggests that Penn students are “Pushing Diversity Too Far.” Shandilya writes, “What exactly do we minority students ‘have to go through’ at Penn? Was there a recent wave of discrimination that I missed?” Clearly, Shandilya is not attuned to the realities of Penn. As highlighted in the PULSE survey, there are stark differences between the minority experiences and the overall Penn experience. One out of five Latinos did not agree with the statement, “Students are respected here regardless of their race and ethnicity.” How can Shandilya suggest this is an acceptable statistic?

There has been no “recent wave” of discrimination, but rather an underlying presence. We assume that Shandilya has never been stopped by Penn security, mistaken for a West Philadelphian. He has never been the last one chosen for a group project because he was perceived as less capable. Nor has he felt the need to represent his entire ethnicity when answering questions in the classroom. But again, we can only assume.

Shandilya misinterprets the Latino Coalition’s agenda. As the LC has continually explained, we do not want Penn to hire or admit anyone based on their ethnicity. We merely ask that Penn make an effort to include top quality Latino professors in its applicant pool. Certain departments’ failure to hire any minority faculty for over 20 years is disheartening. Furthermore, it is unacceptable that Penn is last in hiring Latino faculty among the Ivies. Why are we being outperformed in this regard?

Shandilya generalizes his experience for the entire minority population at Penn.

The Latino Coalition Board

Contact LC Chairwoman and Wharton junior Wendy De La Rosa with questions.

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