MCTC’s Roller Coaster of Diversity

Minneapolis Community and Technical College boasts continuously of its “diverse” community. Their website and fliers depict exactly what one would expect from this kind of institution: photos of smiling individuals from several races showing how thrilled and excited they are to attend a school that accepts them. That tolerates other cultures.

If “acceptance” and “tolerance” were enough, we’d all live in fields of lollipops with cotton candy clouds.

The percentage of students of color attending MCTC fluctuates dramatically, depending on who you’re asking. However, walking the halls of the campus, no one can deny this is a multi-racial, multi-cultured community. The students, especially, come from such different backgrounds, which provides MCTC with at least one thing to show pride for – the opportunity for its students to learn from each other. But where’s the money in that?

So, the institution that is MCTC works to protect its students from themselves and its staff. Because their primary concern is obviously their students.

Who is the institution that MCTC is protecting when several students file grievances against a professor for neglecting to teach anything, for putting in a movie and leaving, telling the class they “know how to lock up,” and those students are told their complaints will go unheard and ignored and the professor does not receive the slightest rebuke, though she freely admitted to neglecting her duties as an instructor?

Alternately, who is the institution that is MCTC protecting when they deny a popular and well-liked professor tenure and discontinue his contract when he refused to change a student’s grade, also ignoring his requests for a meeting to explain his reluctance to do so?

Who is the institution that is MCTC protecting when it does reprimand a professor because two white, male students can’t handle the stress and discomfort of a student-led discussion on race? Topics that might question the privilege they take for granted on a daily basis and leave them feeling confused and forced to think about the issues being discussed in a rational manner until they become disruptive and derail the conversation with all the white, male angst carried on from centuries of oppression?

Who is the institution that is MCTC protecting as they slowly weed out any staff of color that is strong-willed, with articulate voices, and dissenting opinions of the way race should be addressed at MCTC?

Who is the institution that is MCTC protecting when they replace those voices with people who are willing- eager- to adhere to the rules, to keep their heads low and their mouths shut for whatever reasons they might have? What are you teaching students with this method of a carefully controlled environment?

Powers that be, it is obvious — your only true goal is to protect yourselves.

It is not yet time to teach that “color doesn’t matter.” There will never be an appropriate time to forget history. Racism is admonished when it is explicitly expressed, but implicit racism- institutional racism- is ignored and is still viewed by many to be The Way Things Are; something that we simply have to live with, even if no one wants to admit it.

You won’t admit it, even though you continue to perpetuate it.

Young, privileged gentlemen, this is why these issues must be discussed in “every” class.

If students can’t learn from the staff, if students can’t learn from each other, how to calmly and rationally explore issues of race, it doesn’t matter what appearances you try to keep up with your happy students of color mixing with your happy white students in this picture-perfect world of Diversity. People will see it for what it is: brilliant marketing.