November 10, 2016

Anthropology Faculty, Dr. Bonnie Glass-Coffin, featured in the Huffington Post

Old Main

As an anthropology and religious studies professor who has spent my entire life championing diversity, I was shocked and stunned by this election.  When I arrived on my university campus yesterday, it was in order to lead a discussion with the 95 undergraduate students in my "Peoples of Latin America" class and I had no idea where to begin.  You see, I'm from Utah, where Trump won the vote in my county and my state by more than a two-to-one margin.  Our topic this week is immigration and I was thinking about Trump's "Wall" as well as the divisiv rhetoric of the last 18 months.  Still in a daze about how to process what I was feeling, I was at a loss about how to process what I was feeling, I was at a loss about how to appropriately share my outrage with my students - many of whom have never left the comfort of their highly conservative, devoutly Mormon, Utah homes.

Demographics are, of course, changing in Utah.  Twenty years ago, Latinos and Hispanics made up less than three percent of our local city and county population.  Now, more than 30% of graduating high school students in my community are of Hispanic origin.  Many more of the students in my People of Latin America class are also Latino and HIspanic than when I first started teaching this clas two decades ago.  Changing tuition policies at our public university have lately attracted a surge of students from nearby states like Arizona, Nevada and California.

In my Latin America class, the subject matter of the course also attracts diversity.  There are significant numbers of caramel-skinned students from cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix as well as from countries like El Salvador and Colombia in this particular class. But, we are still Utah - one of the reddest states in the nation.  Marriage equality and a woman's right to choos, religious pluralism and even equal pay for equal work are problematic issues in my state. 

And, I was feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach as I drove to work.  Like many, I had stayed clued to the television until Trump's acceptance speech, which came long after midnight.  I hadn't slept much after that.  So, when I arrived on campus, I was exhausted.  I walked over to our university student services building to get coffee and some eggs.  

Read the full article here. 



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