During my time here at Shippensburg University, whenever I proposed any positive change, I always heard, “this is a conservative area.”
The more I heard that phrase, the more upset I became.
Do people give up before they even begin, just because others hold viewpoints that differ from their own?
Just about everyone I talked to approached matters with a mere defeatist type of attitude, something I have since come to understand.
In order to understand this, let us define the word “conservative.”
Simply put, a conservative person is someone who believes in the traditional way of doing things.
The word is often used to describe people of strong religious belief.
Unfortunately, there have been so many examples of marginalization and discrimination from those who hold conservative viewpoints that the word conservative itself has become a pejorative.
As a result, when people say Shippensburg is a conservative area, I substitute “discriminatory” and “bigoted.” These two words might seem strong, but I believe they are not inaccurate. When I first came to Shippensburg, the university did not have a policy for transgender students living on campus.
Three and a half years later, they still do not have designated living areas for transgendered students.
Nor does the Swataney explicitly state that the LGBT community is protected from bullying; despite many other minorities being listed.
The university does produce a pamphlet about diversity, but the information inside reads as though it was written in 1985.
Simply put, SU as a whole does not do a very good job with minority rights or addressing diversity.
The institution is becoming increasingly white, increasingly heterosexual.
Diversity is not welcome here.
Despite all that I have heard, this has nothing to do with the community.
Shippensburg does not have a director of LGBT services on campus.
Its Department of Social Equity only has a handful of people working there.
The Women’s Center and the Multi-cultural Student Affairs Center (the MSA) are both overloaded with work. From the top down, Shippensburg has not invested in the resources necessary to make sure students from all walks of life have the support systems they need outside of class to succeed.
Because of this problem, I will not be returning in the fall of 2012.
While there are many reasons for this, the biggest reason is the conservative nature of the town and the campus as a whole.
After challenging the administration on many fronts and finding it unresponsive at every level of authority, I finally decided that this university is not a place I feel comfortable spending my money in.
The world is made up of more than white, heterosexual males and females.
As long as the university’s administration refuses to create policy — or even consider what policies might be appropriate, problems like these will continue.
Students who feel marginalized will leave to attend other institutions.
A crucial part of education diversity will go unmentioned as students will not have the opportunity to meet people unlike themselves.
There is really no reason for it, not even the culture of the surrounding area.
The administration can choose another path.
People can stand up for themselves.
Conservative does not have to mean discrimination.
As I prepare for life outside of the Shippensburg area, I sincerely hope these things I have presented become true.
Everyone deserves better.