Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Diversity Isn't Just an Issue That Affects Minorities Alone

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Diversity Isn't Just an Issue That Affects Minorities Alone

Article excerpt

During the march on Tallahassee to protest Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to end affirmative action, I decided against chasing down the politicos.

I talked to Jack Crepeau instead.

Crepeau is a graduate student in sociology at Florida State University. He was among the tens of thousands of marchers who blanketed the street in front of the Capitol last Tuesday.

He also is white.

But Crepeau's protest wasn't just about affirmative action, but about quality education. Not the kind learned from a book, but the kind learned through interacting with people whose race or ethnicity would still earn them a rejection from some private clubs.

"I'm here because I don't think there's enough diversity on my campus as it is, and I would like to change that," Crepeau said. "Only one out of the 50 students in the graduate [sociology] program is African-American.

"If we had more minorities and women, it would bring more perspective. We study things like inequality and racism. When you don't have those perspectives, it hurts."

Too bad the governor didn't take his lead from someone like Crepeau. Too bad Bush, a person who says he values diversity and believes his plan will address concerns such as Crepeau's, didn't put as much stock in weighing perspectives. Especially those of the African-American lawmakers who questioned his plan early on. If he had, then the first day of the Legislature's first session of the 21st century would have been marked by activities inside, not activism outside.

Doing that would have been easy, too.

Easy because many people who descended on the Capitol weren't protesting the goal of One Florida -- to create diverse campuses and contracting opportunities without race and gender requirements. What they were protesting was the strategy. They fear that without race and gender conscious strategies, realities such as educational inequality, social and economic isolation, and the old-boy system will mar even the best attempts at preserving diversity. …

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