Are Gender and Culturally Based Groups Appropriate?

Pro
By Pascale Gennaoui and Sean O’Loughlin

Within the UCI community, it is imperative that women and other minority groups have a safe space where they can convene and discuss issues that pertain to them as a social group.
For example, sororities and cross-cultural clubs on our campus allow women and other racial and ethnic groups to express their views within a private sphere.
Since our traditionally patriarchal society does not always protect the minority voice, it is crucial to protect the universal freedom of expression for all students involved in sororities and cultural clubs.
Because of historically based racism and sexim in our culture, schools of higher education need give those who share common cultural and gender identies an opportunity to band together and solidify their cause.
Furthermore, women and minorities need to organize with one another on a regular basis, rather than occasionally organizing when severe oppression calls for it.
For instance, joining a sorority or a group that shares your cultural background means that you will be able to relate to others that have had similar experiences as you and who share your interests. This makes for a comfortable atmosphere for the members of these groups, in which they will not be afraid to address women’s issues and minority issues, as they may feel chastised or may be reprimanded for addressing such issues in the presence of the majority, especially those who are not open to minority concerns.
Sororities and culturally based organizations are the university’s way of giving students the opportunity to live and interact with others of their race. In this way, students of similar backgrounds have a safe haven in which they are able to feel socially accepted. If the majority is threathened by this, it is all the more reason to continue these practices.
By having thier own private space, women in sororities, and clubs that cannot be excluded from those who have traditionally had a stronger voice in our society.
There’s a reason why UC Irvine students in sororities actually do better academically when compared to the rest of the campus. The benefit of mutual support and common goals are best for members of these groups and the community as a whole.
With greater opportunities given to women and minorities in today’s culture, they are more able to advance themselves socially and politically as a collective group. In effect, the friction beween different social groups can be alleviated as the egalitarian ideals of our democracy are finally achieved.

Pascale Gennaoui is a fourth-year film and media studies major. Sean O’Loughlin is a third-year political science major.

Con
By Maya Debbaneh
and Shelby Sugimoto

Segregation: a word which means to separate, to divide, an act that so many people have fought against for hundreds of years. Our society and, moreover, our campus should work together in order to build upon the ideas of unity that our ancestors dreamt about.
Traditionally, people have been separated due to race, ethnicity and sex. We now have the ability to unify. We have the power to make choices. Yet we continue to segregate ourselves into groups. How is our society supposed to learn about the opposite sex and various cultures in our community if we continue to separate ourselves?
There seems to be a paradox on this campus: We are taught to share and come together as students in the classroom. But once we leave, we go back to the organizations, the homes and the friends that perpetuate the cycle of segregation. The Arroyo Vista housing community is a central location for these kinds of practices. As we all know, the real world is a mixture of all kinds of people, and college should prepare us for this.
Housing that separates individuals based on race, cultural backgrounds and gender only further our struggle to learn about each other. Instead of practicing what is taught in the classroom by participating in institutions that push us to learn about other cultures and the other sex, we instead institutionalize this separation by offering housing situations that encourage us to distance ourselves from those who are different.
It is well known that the best way to eliminate stereotypes is to put people in contact with individuals they normally do not deal with on a personal, day-to-day basis. If minorities are segregated, how will stereotypes dissipate? In addition, segregation encourages cliques based on race and gender to form on our college campus, just like in high school, leaving individuals to interact with people based on these social groups.
Allowing students to choose who they live with based on race or gender gives these classifications that much more importance in society. While some may argue that those of your race are people you have the most in common with, think of other characteristics they may be overlooking. For example, you may have the common identity of race with your social group, but in terms of economic class or political beliefs, you actually might have much more in common with another group.
Instead of accepting our current state of segregation at UC Irvine, students should make an effort to join a variety of groups that expose them to various types people.

Maya Debbaneh is a third-year political science major. Shelby Sugimoto is a fourth-year social science major.