Along with warm weather (65 degrees today! hot!), spring ushers in annual room draw at Middlebury College. This is the time of the year when students begin to freak out about where they will be living next year. Luckily, I am already all squared away for housing.
About two weeks ago I received an email entitled: “Interested in Living in PALANA House?” Well, if I knew what PALANA stood for I might be interested. Apparently, it stands for Pan-African-Lantino-Asian-Native-American. It is a multicultural house supporting the Office of Institutional Diversity. But most interesting of all, I looked at the recipients of the email and all had “ethnic” sounding last names and then my name. Now, how would PALANA know to contact me? They didn’t racially profile my last name so they obviously had help from Middlebury records. While I’m unsure of what racial-ethnic background checked when I applied to Middlebury, I am a bit put off by the fact that they deemed me “diverse” enough to send this selective application email to me.
In fact, I don’t even believe a multi-cultural house should exist. But applied with that in mind. I wrote this on my application:
I do not believe an intercultural house should exist. Middlebury should be a place where throughout the campus, a feeling of multiculturalism and varied perspectives pervade the surrounding environment among students, faculty, and staff. “Diversity” students should not somehow be grouped together and expected to live up to representing their culture on campus. Why then am I applying to PALANA House? I am doing so to challenge those in the larger community but, in particular, those within PALANA with these ideas and to think more critically and creatively about diversity on campus. I have been here less than a semester but in that time I have found that while this is a supportive community, very little dialogue on actual cultural issues takes place. People are guarded here, unwilling to step past political correctness and delve into the rooted thoughts and feelings. This is something that needs to change and PALANA house may be the first step for me to get involved in making this change happen.
And I was accepted to live in the PALANA Academic Interest House next year. I will be one of nine people residing in Carr Hall. I am looking forward to shaking things up.