The Jambar Column: Diversity for its own sake

By Henry Shorr

A new bill in the Ohio state senate would affect public universities. Not only would universities cut ties with Chinese educational institutions, and faculty would be required to post their syllabi online, but the bill would also crack down on diversity and inclusion training practices for faculty. 

All over the country, people in power are attempting to regulate and moderate what is being taught in publicly-funded schools in a non-content-neutral manner. If you’ve taken a Press Law & Ethics course, you would know that’s illegal.

I don’t want to go into why this bill would be beneficial or detrimental, as I try to keep my columns as apolitical as possible in our day and age. I want to focus on why I think diversity for diversity’s sake is important.

Diversity does not simply mean a difference in skin color; it comprises ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic background, upbringing and many other aspects of people’s lives.

Bringing people from different cultures into rooms where decisions happen creates a more diverse bank from which to pull ideas and resources. 

In my Conflict Negotiation and Management course with Max Grubb, we have spoken extensively about how a diversity of thought increases productivity and profitability in a company or organization. This doesn’t just mean accolades, past job experience or how successful someone was, but what they can bring to the table as a complete package. 

Including people from different walks of life on a team creates different lenses through which people can assess their ideas and issues. It can greatly cut down on groupthink and people can genuinely learn to see the world differently.

Having views challenged can be difficult at times, but it’s where growth thrives. 

I can’t begin to say how much I have had to unlearn from some communities I grew up in to become a better ally. My work as an organizer brings me closer to people from many backgrounds and has opened my eyes to problems that I would have never noticed because I had never been able to see through that lens.

Diversity increases your network. My coworker Jihad always says, “Everybody can’t reach everybody, but everybody can reach somebody.” That’s always stuck with me. Growing your network widens your frame of reference and an institution such as Youngstown State University should be considering that, even without a government mandate.

Having a faculty and administration that understands why diversity is necessary is important to me. Students are not a monolith, especially here in Youngstown. We are a diverse student body from different communities, cultures and countries. 

A staff that reflects that and — maybe more importantly — understands why it’s necessary should be the bare minimum we ask for.