State of Diversity

The United States is often called a melting pot of cultural identities. With so many different backgrounds and experiences, inclusion and supporting diversity are becoming important goals for society. In community colleges the need is even starker. These schools take on more minority students than universities, and understanding diversity is essential to them. Learn what it means to have a diverse campus.

  • Achieving Diversity is full of charts and tables analyzing the state of diversity in the United States education system as a whole. It highlights initiatives that have helped improve diversity around the country and includes a short section on the importance of community colleges in creating inclusive campuses.
  • An introduction to diversity, why it is important and what we can do to support it is featured in An Overview of Diversity Awareness. It defines diversity across racial, gender, class and sexuality lines and highlights the complexity of inclusion.

Improving Diversity

While it might seem that inviting underrepresented groups to attend college would diversity campus makeup, this is not always the case. In order to draw from a varied pool of applicants community colleges need more than a mission statement. Disadvantaged groups want to see services, faculty and policies reflective of their own interests. Some institutions are even guaranteeing admittance to certain groups and developing programs specifically to attract new students. Learn how they are doing it through the resources below.

  • Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Campus showcases a few community colleges whose programs have helped create an atmosphere of inclusion to help their students feel comfortable and learn about each other’s background. These schools have worked to support diversity both in their staff and student bodies.
  • If you need to improve the variety of cultural backgrounds in your faculty, Multicultural Strategies for Community Colleges describes a few initiatives that have seen success.
    A more diverse faculty will attract a more diverse student body and is essential to teaching about cultural differences.
  • A community college dean examines the difficulty hiring faculty from minority backgrounds when up against union contracts. Diversity Hiring opens up the discussion to the community, with some interesting comments.
  • Diversity in Community College District Employment describes the changes brought about with Equal Employment Opportunity plans and how community colleges should react. It recognizes the importance of assessing and evaluating diversity initiatives to gauge their impact.
  • The University of California system is skilled at attracting a varied student body through their programs. The New York Times discusses one of their newest draws, targeting the top 12% of students for guaranteed acceptance.

Importance of Diversity

Creating a diverse campus is not just about looking good on paper. There are proven intellectual advantages to having staff and students of different backgrounds. Students can learn about each others culture, relate to professors from similar backgrounds and collaborate with one another despite differences. A commitment to diversity is about more than simple acceptance. It is about improving the learning of all students by exposing them to different perspectives. The following articles examine the benefits students gain from a diverse campus.

  • According to the Obama administration, getting Latinos through school and on to rewarding jobs is key to the future of the country. Educated Latinos will “win the future” and become productive members of the United States’ skilled labor force.
  • Diversity is not just good for society, it is valuable to community colleges. These institutions stand to gain the most in terms of enrollment and completion rates when it comes to providing an atmosphere of acceptance and mutual learning.
  • Tribal colleges are those located on U.S. reservations that cater to their community with localized courses and themes. These colleges are changing the future of education by utilizing it to reinforce their history and identity.
  • Responding to Cultural Needs underlines the importance of personal connection with learning to support individual growth and realization of their place within society. It uses tribal colleges as an example of where this strategy sees its most successful applications.
  • Advice for teachers at all levels for improving cultural inclusion in their classrooms is found in Addressing Diversity in Schools. This document highlights the need for diverse learning in preparing students to meet the needs of a globalized world.
  • The Role of Community Colleges in Promoting Student Diversity in California reveals the importance of transfer students in broadening the reach of traditional universities. Many four year institutions depend on community college transfers for a diverse pool of students.
  • All types of universities, including prestigious Ivy Leagues, are attempting to increase their diversity through community college recruitment. Step Right Up claims that students at two-year institutions have more opportunities than ever to attain a quality education.
  • The Importance of Diversity in Higher Education provides more than a one sided benefit to the school. Educational quality is improved through interaction with different cultures and evaluation of your place within the world.
  • Inside Higher Ed recognizes a commitment to diversity as evidence of a respect for privacy. People’s backgrounds are unchangeable and accepting them as they are is a also respects their right to a personal identity.
  • Students in STEM related programs benefit greatly from increased gender and racial diversity in their courses. Tapping the Rich Diversity of Community Colleges recommends recruiting from these institutions to improve student retention and exposure to different identities.

Downsides?

Even diversity has its detractors. Some claim that affirmative action and equal opportunity programs actually put some students at a disadvantage. Others say that diversity can go too far, crossing the boundary between need to know and privacy. While some see these arguments as xenophobic they are worth exploring to see how to improve our recruitment efforts. Find out where we miss the mark when building an inclusive education system.