I’m William Repetto, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “‘Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your ‘cat. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Memorial Library’s role.
A few weeks ago, I brought you a ’Cat in the Stacks about our new Diversity and Inclusion Resource Guide and encouraged you to implement the ideas of diversity into your own life. Well, yesterday at Falvey we hosted a panel titled “The Language of Race and Gender in 2018,” featuring Sonia Velasco, Brighid Dwyer, and Dr. Terry Nance. In light of this event, I wanted to revisit the topics of diversity and diversifying.
In my earlier post, I talked about the importance of both educating oneself about and interacting with other cultures, but I also pointed out the ways we can diversify our own lives to aid in personal growth. I’d like to turn presently toward the lessons of our panel to continue that same line of thinking, starting with Brighid Dwyer’s message that the language of diversity changes, i.e., words we used five years ago might not carry the same connotation today.
From left to right: Velasco, Dwyer and Nance
This message drastically deepens our personal understandings of diversity and inclusion – as both a field of study and its practical implementation. For me, this means that some of the messages I learned about these topics even at the beginning of my undergraduate years might not be up-to-date. For you, it might mean that words or phrases that were acceptable during high school have developed a new connotation – meaning (a) you should be sensitive to how you’re saying things and (b) you should always seek out new sensitivities.
I would say also that this perspective on change should affect how we look at diversifying our own lives. Just because something was normal for us five or ten years ago does not mean that it’s normal now. For example, ten years ago it might have been different for me to take an entire day to read. Nowadays, as a graduate student, it’s a break from the norm to take some time off to socialize. Keep this constant change in mind when you think about diversifying your own life – be it by meeting new people or changing your routine.
This all ties back to a message that Dr. Nance gave at the event; different does not equal negativity. This message applies to our language and our personal lives. Just because someone says something differently from how we say it, does not necessarily imply something negative. It’s often worthwhile to learn their point-of-view to improve our own sensitivity (and sensibility!). In your personal life, trying something new has two outcomes: either you enjoy it or, well, not so much; it’s not always negative, so you might as well experience it!
University Librarian and Director of Falvey Memorial Library Millicent Gaskell introduces the panel.
Dwyer also left us with another inspiring message: it all comes down to constant engagement, constant learning and constant reading. We can help you with all of those things here at Falvey. You can visit our Subject Librarians, our stacks, or even the Diversity and Inclusion Resource Guide to engage, learn and read all about diversity and diversification.
Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.