Self-Segregation

by Timothy Yang | 3/6/01 6:00am

To the Editor:

In Ali Rashid's column, "A Legacy of Racism, Sexism," that appeared on March 1 he challenges the administration to "Form a Latino Greek Council and allow for the establishment of a Latina Sorority," as a major way to improve the "cutthroat, racist world" he calls Dartmouth College.

My question is, would this solve anything? Would setting aside a separate Greek system just for Latinos necessarily improve racial relations on campus? Probably not.

Just look around campus and what do you see? An "Asian fraternity," a "black fraternity," "jock frats," "preppy frats" and a host of other organizations catered to every conceivable social group. Is this necessarily wrong? No. It is simply human nature to socialize with people you can relate to and feel comfortable around. This happens not only at Dartmouth but at every single college and community in this nation. My own parents do this all the time. Is it any wonder that their closest friends just so happen to be Taiwanese-Americans who live in the Northeast, be middle-class and have kids that go to Ivy League schools?

The only problem is that segregation (I hate to use this word, but is there any other term that so amply fits?) of this nature fosters too many stereotypes and limits the interaction among people of different races. The administration need not further this already apparent problem. As my friend John says, "There is somewhat of a paradox between integration and self-segregation, where total integration is our goal, but self-segregation seems to be our current conception of how to achieve that." I couldn't agree more (except I wouldn't have been half as eloquent).

What the administration should strive to do is to increase the amount of interaction among different racial and ethnic groups on campus. What good is "racial awareness" if you never actually talk to, have dinner with or live near an Asian, a black or a Latino? It is only through interaction that we can ever hope to create a non-racist society. But we would be awfully naive to think that any single administrative action would solve our problems.