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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

PDC event discusses stereotypes

“Geek!” “Ignorant black boy!” “Self-centered jock!” On Monday, Nov. 11, approximately 60 student-athletes, coaches and non-athletes explored stereotypical labels such as these at the Pioneer Diversity Council’s (PDC) “Diversity Dialogue III: Facing Stereotypes.”

The PDC is an athletic-based organization serving as an avenue for the student-athlete body to express concerns and spread awareness for diversity. Their mission is to strengthen connections between the campus community and to empower student-athletes against the challenges associated with social, cultural and economic diversity.

The goal of the PDC event this past week was to make people aware of the process by which stereotypes are created and to educate Grinnellians regarding the harm that these categorizations of people can cause.

Monday’s event kicked off with the screening of a video featuring clips that depicted stereotypes from various popular movies. This was followed by a presentation which stressed the fact that stereotypes are a learned behavior and explained that stereotypes are created and maintained through a four-step process: association, reinforcement, modeling and repetition.

The event aimed to foster dialogue and conversation through an interactive format which included small group discussions and, in so doing, brought together groups of people that may not otherwise have had the chance to converge and converse.

“The goal of the program was to offer an opportunity to bridge different communities on campus by allowing attendees to participate in engaging activities and discussions that would offer the opportunity for intrinsic and extrinsic evaluation in facing stereotypes,” said Taunita Stephenson, Coordinator for Diversity & Inclusion in Athletics.

Extending beyond race, sexuality and religious beliefs, the PDC also focuses on bridging the gap between athletes and non-athletes. Drawing on personal experiences, some student-athletes felt that stereotypes surrounding athletes can inhibit their relationships with non-athletes.

For Robin Campbell ’16, Social Media Coordinator for the PDC, the diversity dialogue was a way to make the greater campus community aware of the experiences of student-athletes.

“I want people to know there are certain stereotypes about me which create that divide [between athletes and non-athletes],” Campbell said. “I know I’m not the only one that experiences that and what I want to do is make people more comfortable interacting with one another and looking past those stereotypes.”

Stephenson is not sure stereotypes can be entirely eliminated. However, she acknowledges that they can be “avoided or reduced” and hopes that dialogues like the one hosted by the PDC can prove to be a step in that direction.

Aamir Walton ’15, President of the PDC, thinks that the PDC is a diverse group and an appropriate representation of the student body with regards to several factors such as race and gender. However, he does feel as though PDC is currently dominated by athletes, and would like to see the participation of non-athletes grow.

The PDC is interested in broadening student involvement, whether it be in the attendance of weekly PDC meetings, next semester’s Diversity Dialogue or their upcoming Kwanzaa celebration.

Attendees at the PDC event watch clips from popular films that portrayed stereotypes. Photograph by Carsen Jenkins.
Attendees at the PDC event watch clips from popular films that portrayed stereotypes. Photograph by Carsen Jenkins.
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