We must not be complacent as diversity is attacked

We should all care about this issue because it will determine what kind of nation we aspire to build, not just for us but also for other generations that will follow. | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

PantherNOW Editorial Board

Gutting DEI programs is an attack on diversity which has been unfolding before our eyes. This is made boundlessly more staggering by much silence from the student body.

Undeniably, we’ve seen plenty of engagement from students on a variety of social issues, and even in this arena earlier on. Who can forget the Free FIU march?

Understandably, these issues have captivated our attention. As is now evident, even after having suffered a devastating blow, the “Ceasefire Now!” movement has eclipsed a potential push back against the DEI cuts.

At PantherNOW, we applaud the unyielding spirit of all who took part in the demonstrations on campus in expressing their most heartfelt opinions about the war in Palestine. But we believe that some of that passionate activism could be transferred to other issues that are affecting us here at home. 

The unmitigated assault against our diversity should be a source of frustration and unease. FIU stands as the university that has awarded the most bachelor degrees to Hispanics all across the nation. What will become of our graduates as they spread out to seek employment and face a job market that’s no longer incentivized to give them opportunities? 

Among the sharp criticisms leveled against diversity is the notion of meritocracy. According to supporters of the DEI cuts, there is no need for any societal or governmental effort in favor of diversity, since every individual will be rewarded according to the extent of their talents. But our history is replete with examples of when talent alone was not enough.

When programs such as the DEI and others of similar focus were created, it was under the assumption that there needs to be a concerted effort to systematically bring down barriers to minorities’ success. Having a racially diverse nation with boundless opportunities is recognized as one way the country would live up to its promises to the people. It was a way to redress past historical injustices. 

This move comes at a time when companies are recognizing the value of diversity. In a research published in 2017 by McKinsey & Company, it was found that companies that are in the upper quartile for ethnic and racial diversity outperformed others in the fourth quartile by  33%. As the research demonstrates, diversity is not just morally good, it’s also good for business. 

It’s now bizarre to realize that the end of such programs does not instigate our resentment. We are the ones who will live in a nation that discards the importance of diversity. 

Again, we applaud the earlier efforts of students at FIU and young people generally when these anti-DEI initiatives were announced, but the momentum needs to be kept up.

We should all care about this issue because it will determine what kind of nation we aspire to build, not just for us but also for other generations that will follow. As students, we should know that history is the wisdom of time, and it shows us that minorities have not always been treated fairly. 

Must we be reminded that African Americans were treated as second class citizens and had to suffer the caprices of a racist majority that normalized lynching in the deep south? Will the Trail of Tears left by indigenous people as they were forced out of their land not boost our memory of how woefully this nation wronged the natives? Will we forget that we once packed Japanese Americans into concentration camps under the guise of responding to national security interests?

Surely, these scandalous historical chapters have not faded from our memory. And with this in mind, we should be conscious that we have in our hands the chance to right these wrongs and not repeat these gruesome chapters. 

And again, let’s not forget our own passion as a university. From the protest over the reversal of Roe versus Wade last year, to protests about conflict in the Middle East this year, we have an incredibly involved student campus.

After we start making slight recoveries, the reversal of this tide should strike fear into our hearts, and we students owe it to ourselves to take action to preserve our rich culture and not relapse into these prejudicial times.   

When the anti-diversity wave rises, the only reasonable reaction must be to fight it with every means that we possess. Our generation has some of the most sophisticated tools of education at its disposal, we should not be shy to use them. We cannot be acquiescent. 

Our actions would not be unprecedented. The tempestuous 1970s saw the emergence of a brand of college students who understood the value of powerful activism and adamantly opposed the injustices and excesses of their time. They valiantly opposed the depredations of the Vietnam War, and adopted forms of dissent such as openly burning their draft letter, causing president Nixon to end the mandated draft.  

Similar considerations should motivate us in demanding that we not backslide into these unholy times. 

Early signs of the times to come were shown with the Supreme Court’s decision to ban affirmative action last year. With this came the possibility of discouraging underrepresented minorities from applying. 

The elimination of DEI should compel us to wake up now. Otherwise, we will wake up to a star-studded banner that will only wave to reveal a country with vanishing opportunities for minorities. 

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