Diversity Week

Diversity Contest: "Why Does Diversity Matter?"

Osgoode Student

Diversity matters, because we all matter. The words 'dignity', 'equality', 'rights', 'difference', and 'justice' have been plastered all over Osgoode. These words were well chosen; these words have power. ‘Dignity’ instructs us of the respect we should all give and receive; ‘equality’, of the ideal to strive for. ‘Rights’ are what should be guaranteed to each of us; and ‘differences’ are what we correctly recognize exists, but hopefully know to be part of our strength. Finally, ‘justice’, should be fundamental to our conscience.

But there are three words, I think, that are just as much a part of diversity, that we haven’t given the same treatment. And they are words we shouldn’t forget. The first word is ‘understanding.’ Part of being a community is taking on the challenge of understanding each other, because learning from our unique experiences and backgrounds makes us all better. Diversity isn’t about us all agreeing with each other – it isn’t that at all. And if it was, that wouldn’t be much of a law school! Instead, diversity is about the getting there -- the journey of thinking about each other’s perspective.

The second word is ‘sameness.’ When we hear ‘diversity’, too often we focus too much on our differences. It’s far too easy to just think about that which divides us. And while it would be wrong to pretend those differences don’t exist, we’d be no less wrong to forget that those differences are far exceeded by the things we share.

The third word is ‘everyone.’ For every one of us, our experience at Osgoode is made more complete by all the rest of us. Diversity is about seeing the interconnectedness of the bigger picture of our school, and the process of thinking about – and sometimes, the process of taking action on -- how that fits into our profession, our nation, and our world. I like to think that in the grand scheme of things, and despite what the law school curve might make us think sometimes, we’re all trying to row in the same direction; the entire night sky is brighter, because of each star. The Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it this way: “a person, is a person, through other persons. I need you to be all you can be, so that I can be all I can be.”