The Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding would be my favorite place to study on campus if it were on campus. As a Mathey Moose situated in a corner of campus, I am quite used to the long treks to classes past Washington Road; however, sometimes far is just too far.
The Carl A. Fields Center (CAF) represents the vision of diversity Princeton has — or should have — for its student body, but its distance from campus is more than disappointing. I can’t help but conclude that its distance represents a lack of true concern for the state of cultural understanding at the University.
There is a profound difference between the University’s accepting students of color to improve its demographic diversity and accepting them to include diverse perspectives and histories. Besides the presentations during orientation that facilitate conversation between different groups, this University lacks a genuine engagement in diversity of the student body. This engagement can be defined as rejecting the tokenization of students of color, asking culture-pertinent questions, and inviting students of color to occupy previously uniform spaces. No, I was not accepted into the University on the basis of affirmative action. Yes, I have an entire history besides slavery. And yes, I deserve to be here and make my presence known.
Students of color, who need true diversity to flourish, often seek out diverse experiences. Such experiences should not have to be sought out, as it takes away from the true point of college: education and growth. This constant search for inclusion also creates a feeling of being an outsider, which can really be detrimental to one’s learning experience here.
The Fields Center, a haven to the typical person of color at Princeton, is not conveniently accessible to the typical person of color or to the general population on campus. Some might say that the distance between the Field Center and the rest of campus — like that of the eating clubs — makes it so that the people who do seek out this inclusive environment are the ones who truly want to be there. However, the lack of exposure to the diverse cultures visually explored at the Fields Center threatens the cultural development of a detached Princeton student.
Diverse exposure is a concept we seem to be missing here: If this institution of a higher education is diverse in print, everything is okay, but to inject diversity into the vein of life at this University seems to be too much of a strain for the University. I thought we put in continual hard work here at the University, not minimal effort.
We should in no way take aims to collectively dig the Fields Center from its foundation on Prospect Avenue and plop it on top of Frist Campus Center as a show of protest; however, an extension could be made. A prominent location speaks for a salient idea. The idea of diversity should be just as important as political involvement (represented in Whig and Clio Halls) and as widespread as something like coffee, which is sold at countless spots on campus. Inserting the presence of the Center of Equality and Cultural Understanding alongside the likes of the LGBT and Women*s Centers, both of which have offices in Frist, would show an active engagement in the true prospect of diversity.
The place itself is a comfort to many students, but moving the community’s ethos closer to campus would allow for more students to get involved in Fields Center-sponsored events with more convenience. A campus-centered presence would also bring in more students and hopefully leave a lasting impression of active diversity on those who enter.
Ideally, what does active diversity look like on campus? For one thing, it doesn’t stop at Orientation; it perseveres with ardor. Additionally, diversity goes beyond a number. I should not — and neither should other students of color — be hesitant to attend a predominantly white institution (PWI), feeling as though I will be an outcast as a cultural rarity because I was only accepted for the color of my skin.
Active diversity and true cultural understanding should both be constant presences; therefore, the first step to having a general feeling of inclusion at this University is to bring the presence of the Carl A. Fields Center closer to the center of campus. The events usually held at the Fields Center would exert a more striking force in a populated place like Frist. Representatives of the Fields Center would also hold more influence in the general lives of students.
Diversity should be at the heart of what it means to be a Princeton student, and currently, the Fields Center proudly occupies a spot way down in Princeton’s foot. It is due time that the Fields Center moves to the heart of campus.
Makailyn Jones is a first-year from Sharon, Mass. She can be reached at .