Multiculturalism and diversity on the College Campus
Resources and Information on Fostering and Maintaining an Inclusive Environment
Original Articleand More Resources from the Affordable Colleges Online
Multicultural Guides and Resources
Recognizing the need for comprehensive information on how students of varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds are being served and empowered across college campuses, we created a series of guides designed to highlight the many educational, financial and social opportunities available to today’s postsecondary students.
Finding an Inclusive and Diverse College
By 2050, ethnic and racial minorities are expected to comprise 50 percent of the American population, meaning there will no longer be a single majority ethnicity. Between 1976 and 2012, this shift was underway on college campuses, where representation of minority students grew noticeably across all ethnicities, while the percentage of white college students decreased from 84 percent to 60 percent. As the United States lives up to its reputation as a melting pot, college campuses are working to ensure all student populations are represented and served equally, regardless of their cultural or ethnic heritage.
College is a time when students expand their worldviews, augment critical thinking skills and create relationships with students from all backgrounds and walks of life. Developing an understanding for and appreciation of diversity plays a massive role in the lives of students, not only while they are in college but also throughout the rest of their lives. A recent Forbes survey of employers found that 65 percent believed diversity was crucial to business success, while 75 percent planned to harness diversity initiatives to grow their businesses. Long before pressing the “accept” button on the admissions page, students should learn about the importance their shortlisted schools place on fostering diversity and multiculturalism on campus and beyond.
Determining a School’s Diversity
Diversity can refer to respect for varied points of view; openness to new ideas, cultures, religions, and traditions; or the lack of homogeneity. Finding a truly diverse campus with an open climate can be a significant component of the postsecondary experience. Because college is a time of personal and intellectual engagement, diverse campuses also challenge students to understand why they hold certain assumptions or beliefs and help them develop frameworks for seeing the world.
It can seem daunting for prospective students to truly get a feel for a school’s diversity without first attending the school. Our tips below will help you ascertain if a college values multiculturalism, whether that means looking for resources, getting to know the faculty mindset or talking with current students about their experiences.
Getting Involved on Your Campus
A report by Association of Leadership Educators showed that over 75 percent of college students surveyed belonged to student organizations, programs or clubs on their campus. The findings illuminate their motives for involvement:
Some of the ways students can promote diversity on their campuses include:
Getting involved in college programs or organizations working to enhance multiculturalism on campus can be a significant part of a student’s college experience. In addition to planning socials and campus initiatives, many of the groups noted above have the ears of senior faculty and administrators, and use this platform to enact change. Student Voice is just one example of a student-run organization making an impact. According to research, involvement in campus organizations not only promotes change and greater understanding of issues facing the student body, but also increases active members’ skills in leadership, communication, critical thinking and empathy.
Community Resources: Getting Involved in Your College Town
In addition to student organizations, there are many off-campus opportunities to encourage diverse and inclusive communities. The Corporation for National and Community Service found that nearly one-third of all college students volunteered their time, evidence that the students of today want to be engaged in their surroundings. Many universities have service learning and volunteerism offices with ties to local nonprofits and service agencies. These are a great place to start, as university staff can put students in touch with organizations matched to their interests. Other options include national volunteer databases, such as Volunteer Match, Catchafire and All for Good.