According to city-data.com, St. George really is largely white, Mormon, and, if not conservative, at least votes Republican.
Students who do not align with these demographics often feel unwelcome by the St. George community. This was expressed many times by students interviewed while writing this article. I unfortunately can’t do justice to the all these conversations in a 500-word article, but it is a real problem.
For example, Nicolette Parrish, a senior integrated studies major from Kayenta, Arizona, struggled with finding a job.
“I looked and looked but couldn’t find anything,” Parrish said. “Until finally I started saying, ‘I have a grandma that lives here. She’s married to this person.’ That’s when I started getting job offers and interviews.”
Brett Stanfield, a senior English major from Columbus, Nebraska, said he notices a contradiction in the community morals.
“You have the high, moral, ‘christian’ values, if you will,” Stanfield said. “So much to the point that in my fiction writing class we’re totally censored in what we can say […] no foul language, no pornographic material, nothing related to drugs or violence or crime or anything like that. But then I was looking at the Mr. Dixie poster and you have these really sexualized exaggerations of masculinity where all these guys are shirtless like they’re from ‘Magic Mike’ or something.”
Some students told me about being stopped often by the police. Others shared examples of cultural insensitivity and cliquishness. Some feel uncomfortable anytime they are away from others who share their beliefs.
So people definitely feel excluded. Whose fault is it? It’s easy to assign the blame to the majority population, but I think blame belongs to everyone and the solutions are everyone’s responsibility.
I always cringe when Mormons use Mormon jargon like everyone knows what they are talking about, but we shouldn’t hate on that person anymore than the sports lover who uses sports jargon like everyone loves football.
We all stereotype, assume and overgeneralize. We all speak thoughtlessly and exclude others.
Gabby Williams, a senior music major from Las Vegas, had a few ideas to improve the St. George culture.
“Just really, really think before you say something, be more sensitive, realize that there is that one minority in class and just watch your stereotypes,” Williams said. “Rather than look at us as ‘diverse’, we’re all human, just come hang out with some cool humans. And while you’re at it we’ll tell where we are from and what we know and our culture. We’re pretty much all the same, just different cultures.”
I support Williams’ ideas. We’re all just humans. So let’s all just watch our stereotypes, and realize people are different from us, and that’s OK.