By Christopher Troein '12
A few days ago, amid a furious debate over integration of Germany’s large number of Muslim immigrates, the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, declared multiculturalism a failure. Their debate focused on whether immigrants, especially Turkish Muslims, actively participate in the wider Germany socio-cultural landscape. I naturally assumed Princeton had made multiculturalism work, but inspired by Merkel to rethink the matter, I am no longer so sure.The University’s many dance companies alone show large cultural variety. Dance groups on campus perform in styles from Urban to Indian to Belly Dancing to Ballet to Mexico Folk to Ballroom. All these groups reflect highly upon a campus open to other cultures, and as the talented performances by these groups show, this diversity directly benefits students. Yet, the multiculturalism of Princeton reeks of failure.
Imagine if the University’s Texans stayed together as a distinct group on campus, dominating the same line dancing group, and feeding into the same dining option. Imagine if this tight-knit group of Texans stayed tight-knit, with only a token Canadian being interested in the group. Now imagine if this group of Texans was uncomfortable reaching out to non-Texans.
Sound familiar? To varying degrees, the same tale is repeated across the University’s many cultural groups. And with exception to the last line of that paragraph, I see no problems with individuals favoring their own cultures. But feeling uncomfortable in other cultures is a worrying problem.
And so I pose a simple question to think about: Is this merely an error of observation bias, or are individuals self-segregating by ethnicity due to a discomfort in reaching out to different people? If the latter is true, then the University is failing to show its own students the benefits of diversity.