Recently, the Oregon State University Office of Community & Diversity held a diversity essay contest. 5 essays were chosen and then voted upon by the OSU community. I read all five of the essays. At the time, I felt that only one of the essays expressed a non-propagandized view on diversity at OSU. It turns out that that essay would be the eventual winner. Written by Matthew Holland, an English major, the winning essay focuses on OSU’s Difference, Power, and Discrimination curriculum and how it impacts OSU students. While Matthew’s essay was certainly important in its message, I was moved by an essay by a first-year student. Holland is a fifth year student, presumably in or nearing his senior year, and I would expect a well-written essay given his program of study and exposure to a class like the Ethics of Diversity. However, the essay that I have posted below, was written by a first-year student who directly experiences what a lack of diversity at OSU can mean to a student. I had the privilege of reading Israel Salgado’s essay and asked him if I could post it on my blog. Israel’s essay provides insight into his experience and what can be done to make OSU a more diverse institution.
Diversity at OSU — Guest essay by Israel Salgado
The word “diversity” has multiple meanings to different individuals. It can mean: ethnicity, race, culture, sexuality, gender, social class, language and/or, disabilities. Though Oregon State University has made successful choices in trying to diversify its campus and community, it can still move forward in its goal of becoming “a destination of choice for people interested in diversity” by having more diversified staff, intercultural awareness events not only in the cultural centers but in the residence halls, and offering more baccalaureate core courses in this subject.
I come from Woodburn, Oregon a town just an hour away going north on the I-5. It’s a very diverse place with a population of 21,560 people where you just have to walk down the street before you can see individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. However, when I came to Oregon State University back in September to start my college education, I experienced a cultural shock. Though I have done my entire education with Caucasian students, I felt like I went from one country to another in less than an hour. During the first week of fall term, and sometime after that, I felt intimated and out of place here. I believe that every diverse student that comes here has or will feel the same feelings at one point in their life at Oregon State University.