One of the most lauded features of US higher education is the opportunity it provides for interacting in meaningful ways with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Hmmm. How well are we doing in that area? Plenty of room for improvement, right? Morgan Pace, student at the University of Texas at Austin, home of the Longhorns, offers a suggestion in this July 2020 editorial in the university newspaper, The Daily Texan.
Read it here.
EXPLORE, REFLECT, SPEAK UP
1. Pace assures her readers that it’s “okay to not know exactly what to say,” but staying silent and saying nothing at all is very much not okay. Why, according to Pace, is silence unacceptable? Summarize her argument. Is it persuasive? Why or why not? Explain your thinking and the reasons for your response.
2. Pace’s essay was published in her university’s student newspaper. Who is her intended audience? Other Black students? All students? The public in general? Someone else? Why do you think so? Point to examples from the essay that signal who Pace’s intended audience is.
3. LET’S TALK. In her closing paragraph, Pace invites readers to ask someone how they feel about what’s going on. Choose a classmate or two—preferably people you’ve never talked with before—and open the conversation with that question. Exchange feelings, opinions, and observations by listening thoughtfully to what each person is saying. Once everyone has had an opportunity to be heard, think about whether there are specific steps you might like to take, individually or with others, to foster more communication and empathy on your campus. (We encourage you to get the ball rolling and turn your conversation into action. What can you do to foment communication? Jump in.)
4. LET’S WRITE. Pace had an idea and brought it to the attention of her university community by writing to the student newspaper. What might you like to say to your school’s community? Write a short opinion piece that takes a position on an issue of common interest at your school. Use your personal experience as evidence, and include comments from others, if you wish. (Be sure to get explicit permission before you cite someone by name.) When you’re done, consider submitting your essay to your school or community paper.