Editorial: FIU must work to maintain its “Worlds Ahead” philosophy

At FIU, we like to say we’re “Worlds Ahead,” but in the student lives of FIUSM’s editorial board, like many others, we have had experiences and professors who nullify the virtues of diversity and integration that FIU glorifies. Many of us have grown up in a community that has exposed us to many unfamiliar cultures.

However, some distance widens between professors and students. As an editorial board, we believe if FIU wants to be “Worlds Ahead,” we must train our faculty to understand what that means, what their role in the community is and how being “Worlds Ahead” is represented — especially when students find the need to report unfair treatment.

At the same time, an unspoken problem can’t be heard or addressed. Students have a duty to exercise their right to report any unfair treatment they may receive from members of faculty. It’s not enough to warn the next student about the professor or report it on Rate My Professor. Going to the department chair or dean and informing them about any issues pertaining to the professor is key.

This, however, may not be so simple, nor does it guarantee a solution. Often, if the student musters the courage to speak to the appropriate authorities, an intimidating task for many students, their testimony will make the problem concrete.

The department has a responsibility to consider the issue being presented to them and to respond in the right manner. Telling students that “there’s not much I can do” and that they’re “reading too much into it” is unacceptable. Students are paying tuition to take classes, which should be taught by professors who have an understanding for the diversity in their own classrooms.

In the end, when a problem arises, students will overlook the content in the class and focus on how they were treated by someone they thought they could genuinely learn from. That’s not cool, and certainly not part of an educational mission.

Title IX is required training designed to prevent sex discrimination and sexual violence. We are grateful that our University takes these precautions with faculty and staff by training them to combat these particular situations for those who need the safe space. Creating safe spaces for students and allowing them to go to professionals on campus for help is an important first step. However, if the University does not train their faculty and staff to combat certain discriminations that a student may undergo, all of our progress towards becoming globally versed will be undone.

For instance, Safe Zone training was established on FIU campus in order to prepare faculty and staff to properly support students when coming out or sharing their gender identity. This form of specific training helps the professional understand how to react when being approached by students who are struggling through specific situations. Any door with an FIU professional inside should be a safe zone for aspects gender identity and more because people are the sum of all their identities.

We are not suggesting censorship. As students we value conversations that challenge and develop ideas. We are suggesting consideration and courtesy. By highlighting problem areas and addressing them head on, we can improve how all members of our community are treated and become the image of an establishment that celebrates hyphenated identity – not ignores it. At a university housing multiple identities such as FIU, training should be considered for all aspects of intersectionality, especially for the authorities to whom students report injustices.

 

Image retrieved from Flickr.

 

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