Campus, News

‘Minority’ an acceptable phrase at Boston University

By Nadja Sumter

Despite recent debate over the connotations of the word “minority,” Boston University students and administrators say they have no problem with the word.

The Boston City Council unanimously banned the word minority from all city documents last year, but unease regarding the label has continued, according to a front-page story in the Jan. 21 issue of The Boston Globe.

Reginald Pryor, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs said equating the word “minority” with inferiority is a misconception corrected only when the meaning behind the word is clearly explained.

“Females qualify for affirmative action regardless of the fact that white females are the majority, but not because they are inferior,” Pryor said. “They are considered a minority group today because of the long history of opportunities they were denied in past American culture. Because of this oppression they are a minority in fields.”

“You can change the term as much as you want, but it will do you no good unless you are ready to eradicate the need for such a term,” Pryor said.

Greg Leonard, director of the International Students and Scholars’ office, also said the use of the term is not negative. However, he said it is hardly a prevalent description for the international student population at BU.

“We do not refer to our international students as a minority group,” Leonard said. “This is not a conscious decision we’ve made. It’s just something that has never occurred to us, probably because it’s not a very meaningful way to refer to them.”

Leonard said that while parts of society may view the term as negative, its literal meaning holds now harm.

“Many people used it to refer to groups which simply contained smaller numbers of people than whatever the majority group was,” Leonard said. “The term is becoming less meaningful as minorities in our area increase in number.”

Boston University’s student population and international and multicultural clubs do not seem to have a problem with the term at all. Instead, it is welcomed, according to Leo Naut, a Dominican student at the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Yes, I do consider myself a minority in the sense that I am a part of a group that is less common in the Boston University community, but I don’t think that the word in any way is meant to classify me as inferior,” Naut said. “Sure, some people probably think that way, but it’s wrong.”

CAS sophomore Sumeet Tewani said he views Boston University’s clubs and organizations as a positive representation of one’s culture. He is joining Boston University’s India Club to meet people of similar interests, “Basically in order to meet more Indian people.”

“Through a variety of events, they are able to make one more aware of his or her own culture,” Tewani said. “By putting on shows and events, they would be able to expose people of other cultures to the positive aspects of the minority.”

“I’ve always been exposed to Indian culture and I’ve always had a bunch of Indian friends, and here at Boston University there are so many Indians as it is, and I’ve never really felt discriminated against, or stereotyped or anything like that,” Tewani said. “I think that, in order to feel like a minority, one probably has been put in that mindset, and in my mind the most likely thing that would cause that would be to be stereotyped in some way or another, not necessarily negatively.”

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