Why the Diversity Week Assembly Was Disappointing

Luke O'Connell, Sports Editor

     Diversity Week had the potential to be beneficial for Hellgate students, but events like the assembly this Tuesday are why it isn’t. It was poorly organized, wasn’t diverse (even for Missoula), and overall was insult to our school’s culture.  The speakers and performers were incredibly talented, but it just wasn’t the right forum.

     The first issue was that the assembly had next to no continuity.  It seemed to be put together at the last minute. We witnessed speakers scrambling to get ready multiple times, leading the poorly organized event.  The majority of the sophomore class and senior classes couldn’t see the performers because of the screen for the presentation, which seemed unnecessary in itself. Yes, the Mars rover, Opportunity’s, “death” is sad, but the diversity week assembly was an inappropriate time to talk about it.

     Rather than learn about Matt Damon’s acting career, I would like to know about the tribal heritage of the Fancy and Jingle dancers, the meaning of the songs, and what Native American tribes the flags (which were still in plastic) signified.  In another setting, I’d be much more interested in learning about what the keynote speaker had to say, but overall he was taking away from what the assembly was supposed to be about.

     Had his speech, along with Matthew Knight’s and Carpool’s respective performances been more fully integrated into the overall idea of diversity, I would be much more impressed by the assembly as a whole.  Tuesday’s assembly had a poorly put together message that may have led outsiders, especially freshmen, to misinterpret what Hellgate is all about.

     Hellgate is known for its diverse and accepting culture, but this assembly didn’t push that message at all.  As a minority student at Hellgate, Faith Wells felt insulted by the performance. “I was a little offended by it, as it was titled Diversity Week, I figured that there would be diversity, but apparently that was too much to ask.”

     When asked how the assembly could have improved, Wells said: “First of all I think it would have been ideal to have not just diversity of music and culture, but diversity of race, sexuality, and other things that unique aspects of ourselves that are especially prevalent at Hellgate.  We’re a very diverse school, and this is how we’re representing ourselves? With a middle aged white man and his struggles working with NASA?”

     “I think frankly, that’s not entirely diverse. It may be diversity of ideas, but that’s not necessarily what we’re focusing on. We need to zoom in on other issues that are common in Hellgate.  We need to have an accurate representation of our school and Diversity Week, and that wasn’t done in this presentation.”

     Recently, anti-Semitic graffiti was found in one of the second floor bathrooms at Hellgate, and students and staff around Hellgate are furious.  When asked about Diversity Week in relation to anti-Semitism, senior Dylan Yonce had this to say: “I think that Diversity Week provides a good opportunity to talk about some of those issues in depth like at the assembly when all of the student body is there, opposed to watching people perform or talking about things that aren’t really diverse at all, because Montana is kind of lacking in that, so I think that administration could take this week as an opportunity to address some of those issues in depth, and they haven’t done that so far.”