Diversity efforts have improved on campus, but inclusion remains elusive
- Interview sessions by Public Source with students, faculty and staff on various campuses in the Pittsburgh, PA region found that while diversity is increasing on campus simply by virtue of changing demographics, there is a long way to go on inclusion efforts.
- According to the project, students from marginalized groups are being recruited to boost campus diversity profiles, but "more often than not" no effort is made to make students feel welcome or included once they are on campus.
- Often, the rhetoric espoused from the school's diversity office does not line up with the actual practices and climate on campus, students said.
There is some debate about the true value of diversity on campus, but the reality is that in a changing society —where students of color will soon make up the majority of the feeder population and where the LGBT population of college students is also growing — these students will be increasingly represented on campus. As the Public Source project underscores, a diversity plan devoid of a concrete plan for inclusion won't work. It is not enough to simply recruit and admit students from all racial, ethnic and religious groups and across the income and gender/sexual identity spectrums; valiant efforts must be made to support these students and ensure completion. Feeling ostracized and disconnected from campus leads to students dropping out or transferring, just as unexpected financial obstacles or academic challenges might.
Mandating diversity training for students, faculty and staff could help some embrace using more inclusive language and broadening class discussions to represent a greater range of perspectives. Consideration must be given to everything from cafeteria options to gender neutral dorms, locker rooms and workout facilities, and restrooms on campus. Above all, however, to achieve diversity and inclusion, there must be a top-down tone that any behavior that violates the right of any student to have a positive campus experience will not be tolerated.
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