Letter to the Editor: Campus should be inclusive

by Brittany Walker

Roughly, 7,500 students attend the University of North Alabama. According to UNA’s about page, international students aid in making the number. There are 37 countries reported on campus. UNA’s core values stress loving community and embracing diversity. Sadly, there still exists a divide within our community.

There are days I venture to The Commons for both work and leisure. The Commons buzzes with activity daily. I encounter students from all walks of life. I particularly notice huddles. Huddles are those students who appear content with their intimate circle of friends.

Now, normally this would not bother me. However, I have had the chance to interact with our international friends on campus. There is a serious cause for concern when international students sense exclusion. I have received reports of loneliness and difficulties assimilating into campus life. Acceptance goes a long way with helping international students thrive in our beloved community.

During summer 2015, I was the international. I spent seven weeks in Malaga, Spain. I left the comforts of home as I embraced a new culture. I was alone, scared and intimidated by the unfamiliarity. I soon met Ana. Ana had traveled to Spain from Germany. She had lived there longer and was experienced in navigating Spaniard life. We became fast buddies, and this relationship provided me with a fresh confidence in unchartered territory.

On this campus, I have met individuals from India, Nepal and the Bahamas. These relationships have enriched my life. I now possess a healthy awareness of diversity. I understand it is OK to be different. UNA encourages students to be diverse. This should not be a barrier in our community. It is time to shift perspective.

What if crossing cultural divides helped improve the content of English essays? What if developing relationships with international students introduced an array of food delicacies that were otherwise unknown? What if you discovered another way of living life? Complacency has no place in achieving a diverse campus community.

I encourage readers to take note of opportunity. We have the chance to step out of our comfort zone, dismiss ethnocentrism and create diversity.

The author of this letter to the editor can be reached at [email protected].