Silhouettes show differences

As part of Diversity Week, committees placed chalkboard cutout people around campus so students could write or illustrate how they view themselves as diverse. A cup of colored chalk sat at the foot of each cutout person, and a few phrases served as idea starters.

Some people just messed around, having fun with the figures, but in spite of these pranksters, the concept behind the chalkboard people is rather interesting. Where else can you find an outlet that mentions biracial beauty, active duty military, LGBTQ and white power, all on the same sign?

Even the people goofing off or trying to be offensive with their words added to the overall project. When you open a forum to encourage the masses to be themselves, you can’t complain about the outcome.

Every mark made on those chalkboard people took time and some degree of thought from a passing individual – yes, even those marks some will find offensive. Some people will take offence at the idea of LGBTQs and others will be equally offended by the idea of white power. Regardless, this is our campus, and, love it or hate it, these are your fellow students leaving their marks for others to see.  With the way this project was conducted, who can deny anyone else a voice on the board?

Here’s an idea: After Diversity Week, let’s display all these chalkboard people in one place. The resulting collage will paint a real panorama of campus diversity. No doubt some of these shadow men will reflect different sides of the campus community depending on their original location and who had the opportunity to write on them.

With any project that relies on participation of the masses, you’ll always have those who pass by the outlet of self-expression, even if they think it’s a cool idea and have something to say. That means that no portrait of our campus will be 100 percent complete. But the question we have to ask is, do the views etched onto the skins of these chalkboard men represent the majority of the Southern community, or just the vocal minority?