She's a character, she has opinions.

Learning Diversity

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Digging through articles for a paper I found this little gem from January:

“For all their talk of diversity in education, the leading Democratic presidential contenders did not practice it in their own young lives. Hillary Clinton went to all-female Wellesley…” [Source]

Gosh, I wonder why a woman would want to attend an all-female college.

In the interests of full disclosure I should tell you that I attend an all-female college. That all-female college, to be precise. It isn’t the first college I’ve attended. Long ago, straight out of high school, I attended to a coed state college. Several years ago when I decided to complete my education I began that journey at a coed community college. Now I’m at Wellesley and for the first time I feel comfortable expressing myself.

From my use of “long ago”‘ you might have guessed that I am not a traditional age student. I could have mothered the majority of the class I’ll graduate with and you’d think the age difference would create a vast gulf between us. You’d think wrong. Everything else aside, and I do mean everything, we are women. Wellesley women. (That’s a bit of school pride there for you, and a bit of Hardt & Negri’s “Multitude.”) We’re united by being a group of women, very different women, who all chose to pursue our educations at a same-sex school.

During my orientation I had a wonderful experience. I was seated in Alumnae Hall on a warm August afternoon surrounded by incoming students listening to presentation after presentation about what to do and what to expect. Then something wonderful occurred to me. The pronouns in the speeches were female. The cheering voices were female. The default everything was female. Imagine that for a minute. Imagine how it is to be the norm. Imagine how powerful it feels, and how free.

A young woman in one of my classes asked me what brought me to an all-female school. I talked to her about how different Wellesley felt, how at its very heart it was a much different experience from anywhere else I’d been. I could dress up or dress down and whichever I chose to do it was considered a personal decision and not ever viewed through a lens of impressing or competing for men. I could voice my opinions, all my opinions, without being called “too female” or “not female enough.” It was as if society’s lens through which it views women was broken. Being surrounded by women made me not more of a woman but more of an individual.

Not about diversity? It is all about diversity. It’s about having an environment where there is no pressure to be anything other than who you are, an individual. It’s about taking that lesson with you beyond Wellesley into everything you do and to everyone you meet. It’s about learning to respect and honor the individual and all her differences.

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Written by tldegray

August 26, 2008 at 2:40 am

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