From the Desk of the Editor: Diversify campus guests, activities

Photographer Jess T. Dugan is known for her ability to capture emotionally intimate images in her works, which were displayed in Truman State University’s art gallery last month.

In her Feb. 22 keynote speech, Dugan said she works to ensure her art is a medium for exchanging experience. She said her art can be validating for those in the LGBTQ+ communities and educational for those outside of it.

Dugan is an example of the kind of speakers and outside influence departments across campus should be bringing to Truman. This University paints itself as one in support of diversity and inclusion, but the guest speakers and entertainment often don’t reflect those values. Despite diversity and inclusion being popular among the student body and campus community, it seems like many departments and organizations at Truman don’t see the value in bringing people of diverse backgrounds and identities to campus. 

I can’t begin to imagine the experience many underrepresented groups and people might have, but even as a straight, white man, I’m eager for more diverse speakers and guests to come to Truman. Part of what I valued most about going to college was the variety of people I would meet and the different perspectives I would hear, but unfortunately that has been missing in my time here so far. Truman students have no trouble graduating without hearing other perspectives on campus and learning about diversity, but that’s a problem. They are missing out on important learning and personal growth opportunities, as well as an expansive and inclusive outlook on life.

I’ve noticed a pattern lately with many events on campus that are supposed to appeal to the campus as a whole. Most noticeably, they’re traditionally western, heteronormative and white. Surely, we can do better. With many students not subscribing to those orthodox perspectives, bringing acts and guests that embody those viewpoints alienates the many students that don’t. 

I do commend the events and speakers that have worked to make the University a more diverse place. From the Sir Babygirl concert last semester that provided first-rate music in addition to much needed LGBTQ+ representation, to Student Government’s upcoming Diversity Week, there have been multiple cases of varied representation on campus. Even the Global Issues Colloquium speaker series routinely brings a variety of voices to campus. All of these events are also well attended and consistently receive good campus feedback. 

In addition to their positive reception, underrepresented performers tend to cost less money than mainstream performers. For example, KTRM spent under $2,000 to host Sir Babygirl. In contrast, SAB spent over $20,000 to bring Josh Peck to campus. Spending less money on each campus guest means Truman could likely bring more people to campus, which would help the University continue to diversify its guests and give students more activity options.  

I strongly urge the rest of campus to incorporate more diversity into events and guest speakers, because anyone who listens to student opinion and considers other voices should know that campus activities need it.