More than 20 brothers from Pi Lambda Phi squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder in the Asian Culture Center living room to discuss the importance of multiculturalism.
As part of its annual “Elimination of Prejudice Week,” Pi Lambda Phi continues to bring events to campus focused on discrimination in the community. This year, the fraternity partnered with the ACC to learn how to deal with issues such as color blindness and microaggressions on campus.
Elyssa Klann, a guest speaker and fourth-year student in the IU counseling psychology program, described color blindness as ignoring differences in characteristics such as race, gender and sexual orientation in a community in order to see everyone as equal. She said that this, while usually well-intentioned, erases our culture.
“In order to embrace the cultures of those around you, it’s important to acknowledge your differences and discuss them,” she said. “This will bring you back to your original goal of equality.”
Klann also discussed the importance of acknowledging microaggressions, which she described as subtle, often unintentional comments or actions that reinforce a bias. Although she stressed that microaggressions should never be encouraged, it is not only acceptable but preferred to acknowledge when you are in the wrong.
“A lot of people are afraid to correct themselves or admit that they don’t understand something because they are afraid of being offensive,” she said. “But in order to recognize the importance of multiculturalism, we need to look past that fear.”
In addition to attending talks like these, the fraternity has created its own project in order to reach out to the IU community to end prejudice.
Throughout the week, the brothers of Pi Lambda Phi are carrying a “Wall of Hope” around campus, in which students can write on expressing their positive feelings about the future. The wall contained phrases such as “Openness toward religion” and “Celebrate each other’s differences.”
In the two previous years, the fraternity created a “Wall of Prejudice,” where students could write about discrimination they had experienced, but this year, they decided to take a more positive approach.
“Writing negative things doesn’t always have the best connotation and doesn’t always get the best results,” said sophomore Aaron Patel, member of Pi Lambda Phi. “We decided this year to inspire hope through positive sayings instead.”
The wall is positioned around multiple spots on campus, so that all students can get a chance to participate, said Patel. On Friday, the final day of Elimination of Prejudice Week, the wall will be next to the clock tower by the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.
Usually, the brothers will tear down the wall at the end of the week to symbolize the relief of the prejudices written on it. This year, Patel said that they want to try and keep it.
“It might be a bit difficult because we don’t have a house to store it at, but we don’t want to get rid of all of these messages of hope,” he said.
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