Sunday, April 19, 2009

Run-on Diversity

Why is it that the subjects of Diversity, Multiculturalism, Sustainability, and such hot button topics invariably result in grammatical cramping and truly monumental run-on sentences. The following sentences are excerpted from a piece in the Reed College student newspaper "The Quest". The author (Assistant Dean of Multicultural Affairs) is making an effort to apologize and simultaneously excuse herself from blame while displaying her heartfelt grief for not inviting enough students to an event.

The event RSCAT, was billed as a "weekend long training that sought to engage students in conversations about issues of privilege as a beginning effort to addressing student concerns regarding diversity that is student-led and motivated" Hmm... that seems quite to the point.

It gets worse. Perhaps the students didn't attend the event because they were unable to understand just what the hell it was. To whit: "All of the students who attended this weekend had to complete an application and commit to being a part of an on-going process to engage in personal education around the range of issues associated with diversity, as well as assist in efforts to design a new orientation program that is not dependent on the students who are 'different' (note clever use of apostrophes) to educate others. In addition students who are participating in this group are taking an active role in considering what is their role when it comes to offering a student perspective when it comes to responding to incidents such as racist graffiti, as well as what it means to develop on-going spaces where anyone can feel comfortable raising questions addressing the range of issues associated with diversity.

Reed College is probably the best small liberal arts college in America. I have a great deal of respect for the students and faculty. However, Reed is not immune to the political and social paralysis which has afflicted campuses across the country as they try to grapple with the issue of diversity on campus. The fear of offending someone (anyone) renders the above author incapable of writing a clear simple declarative sentence. I don't really know what she was trying to say but I suspect it was something along the lines of "I am sorry I didn't invite enough white students to our event, but it really wasn't my fault. Racism is bad. Let's work together to eliminate it". Wouldn't this have been easier to read?

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