Daily Egyptian

Letter to the Editor: Dear fellow white people

Dear fellow white people:

“In plain English, to “discriminate” means to distinguish, single out, or make a distinction. In everyday life, when faced with more than one option, we discriminate in arriving at almost every decision we make. But in the context of civil rights law, unlawful discrimination refers to unfair or unequal treatment of an individual (or group) based on certain characteristics, including: Age; Disability; Ethnicity; Gender; Marital status; National origin; Race; Religion, and Sexual orientation,” according to the Civil Rights section of the Find Law website.

Admittedly I should be studying right now instead of writing this opinion, however, after reading Tuesday’s letter to the editor about the “clear discrimination against white males,” I couldn’t in good conscience stay quiet any longer.

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As I wrap up the final days of my third year here at SIUC, I found myself looking at the miniaturized photo of my graduating class. I am one of over 70-plus white males in my graduating law school class. As I look at the photo, I recognize that it takes a lot less time to count the black males in my class photo — one. Now my math isn’t what it used to be, but it looks like the substandard policies of SIUC have yet to make an impact from where I am standing.  

We, as students are a lot of things — poor, tired, stressed, and slightly neurotic this time of year — but if it’s one thing we are not, it is divided.

While I think the administration has been ignorant at times, and even deaf to the issues of diversity and inclusivity, I at no time have seen intentional acts suppressing any of our rights. If anything, I’ve seen the university support our rights by allowing the May 2 march and the peace rally and the sit-in, as well as other protests on campus this year.

As a religiously conservative white male I have never felt anything but welcomed at SIU. This is pretty much because SIUC was built for people like me: I don’t have to explain my success to any of the 70 other members of my graduating class; I don’t have to worry if those same members think that I got here because of affirmative action or some hand out; I don’t even have to worry if my professors use any of my mistakes to judge everyone else like me.

I’m welcomed here without even trying.

What I don’t understand is how anyone could think that our campus’ issue of racism and inequality are recent. The unspeakable video that was posted on YouTube last week, didn’t come from nowhere — it was but one of a long line of issues that speak to the atmosphere of inequality that seemingly exists at SIUC.

MORE: Chancellor announces efforts to improve on-campus race relations

I sincerely hope that my fellow students hold on to what was accomplished at the peace rally on May 2: a unified example of how students can peaceably assemble with respect, while still maintaining their voice to call for change.

If our university was really suppressing our right to free speech, we wouldn’t have heard their voice at all.

Brandon Woudenberg, a third-year law student from Carbondale, is also president of Graduate and Professional Student Council.

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