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The Unknown about Diversity

Diversity should be a unifying force in the world, especially given the rapid rise of globalization. But as the number of international students enrolling in American universities has increased, discrimination and stereotypes about them have as well. 886,052 international students enrolled in U.S. colleges in 2014, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report .

In Suffolk University alone, there are “about 1500 international students on campus, so roughly 17 percent of our population,” said Tracy Fersan, the international student advisor on campus. She added that “almost all international students struggle a bit with academic and cultural adjustment.”

A student at Ohio State University recently tweeted, “The [I]ndian next [to] me [at] the gym smells like a curry covered butthole.” Posts like these are often spread, approvingly or not, and prejudices spread, causing separations among students.

“For some reason,” said Katie Dyner, a student at Boston University, Americans have always wanted to stay in their comfort zone; probably because of the stereotypes that the social media has created.”

Stereotypes have also created underestimation comments that affect and influence students’ performances within the class. While professors are required to go through a training program to prevent discrimination, this is not a complete solution. Janine Cohen, a Peruvian student at Parson’s School of Design in New York, said, “I was struggling to write my final research paper, and my professor told that I will never reach Americans’ students level.” To this day, Cohen can’t shake this comment as she attempts to participate in and contribute to class discussions.

Out of 15 Arab students currently studying in Suffolk University, 14 said they had been put in an uncomfortable situation at least once by a professor. And this is just people who are supposedly in a position of authority, who should be held to higher standards. All Arab students I spoke to said they have faced an issue with at least one of their peers. In one episode, during a classroom discussion of U.S. foreign policy, Suffolk freshman Sarah Sockar recalled a student saying “the whole Middle East should be bombed and be made into a parking lot for the United States’ military.” Though the professor was not in the room when this occurred, Sockar noted that “there was not one person that didn’t condemn her for her comment.”

Professors and students should face repercussions whenever an incident like this occurs—the world is getting more and more connected by the minute, and the only way to coexist in this increasingly diverse world is through education. But when a problem occurs where education is supposedly occurring, coexistence won’t be possible.

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