Asian Cultural Society asks Hamilton, “What is diversity?”

By Manman Wong ’15

When people hear  the word “diversity,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? The variety of ways to answer this question is endless and this incited the Asian Cultural Society to start The Whiteboard Project. The Whiteboard Project is a campus wide project in which we ask either students and faculty to answer one question; “What is diversity?”

Diversity, despite being a word that is thrown around campus pretty often, we question whether people even understand the meaning of this word. Since the word “diversity” can be used to describe anything from race, gender, sexuality, or religious beliefs. We want to allow people to share what this word meant to them personally on a slate of whiteboard. After writing down their responses, we take a picture of them to put faces to their powerful words.

We want the campus to recognize both the words and individuals that are speaking out. These pictures are now on display at the Sadove Student Center and on the Whiteboard Project Facebook page. The event has had a large amount of participation. So far they have collected over a hundred pictures for The Whiteboard Project, each one depicting a person, with his or her own perception of the word “diversity.” However, these pictures will not be up for long.

“I don’t want people to be attached to their perception of ‘diversity’…I want people to learn and grow from the words of others…thus our own perceptions of the word should be erasable like a whiteboard” said Yan Zhen’13, one the co-chairs of ACS and the creator of this project.

Besides learning about what people thought of the word “diversity,” the Asian Cultural Society has observed that people are initially very hesitant in posing their answer to the question. When asked this question, the first thing most people said was “do you mean the definition of the word diversity?” Why do people think this way?

People are compelled to follow either their peers or something that is already known because it gives them a “safety net.” They don’t want people to know what they think because of the criticism that can result. People shouldn’t be concerned with other’s perceptions  as everyon’s perception of diversity is different. We hope that through this project people have learned to be brave to voice their own opinions because that is what the word “diversity” is all about.

If students are interested in learning about other Hamiltonians’ perspective of the word “diversity” they are encouraged to check out the project displayed in Sadove before it ends this Thursday. Students can also find The Whiteboard Project on Facebook.


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