On Sept. 25, Mason hosted an event called “Diversity Sucks” in Liberty Square in order to stimulate conversations about diversity amongst students.

The program was advertised by flyers posted around the Shenandoah neighborhood; the residents of Liberty Square were emailed directly by the event coordinators to participate in a discussion about diversity.

Khorey Baker, Assistant Director of Residential Education and spokesperson of the program, said that his role in the program is not to define diversity for the attendees but to inspire them to engage in candid and open-minded conversations about what they think diversity is.

Baker also said he is interested in bringing students together to create friendships and to help them prepare themselves to be better global citizens after college.

As far as the name of the program goes, a resident of Liberty Square said that the title Diversity Sucks was designed specifically to capture the attention of people.  He was right.  Baker said that it is just a name to get a reaction.  The reaction was quite clear as all the seats in the lobby were taken.

The program began with a brief introduction from Baker as well as the establishment of two ground rules: students will not be held accountable for what they express during the program and that they should speak honestly.

After asking students what diversity means to them, Baker repeated that his goal is once again not to define the word diversity for the students. He then showed a short YouTube video regarding diversity issues in Australia.

After viewing the clip, students expressed what they think are positive or negative outcomes about diversity training both in and out of Mason.  One student said that, if improperly trained, it could force people to think about others in a negative way.

Baker took it a step further and explained that despite the name of the program being used as an attention-getter, diversity does sometimes suck. An example would be when people do not take the time to think about the sensitive topic before approaching others.  He also said that diversity sucks when an offended individual does not grant another the benefit of the doubt after being unwittingly insulted.  Clarification is the key.

Towards the end of the program, Baker placed a strong emphasis on social justice, which is a concept that centers on equality and solidarity while recognizing the values of human rights.

“If  we are  going to have a wide range of different students with different backgrounds, it should be the same within the faculty and staff as well,” said Sarina Stephenson, senior
social work major.  Stephenson believes that the people running the university are not quite as diverse as the students attending it.

Pizza and refreshments were provided for the students who expressed their overall satisfaction with the program by giving Baker and his colleagues a big round of applause.