Though the first ever college in the United States was established in 1628, the first Afro-American man earned his degree in only 1823, while a Caucasian woman had to wait until 1848 and an Afro-American woman till 1862 to achieve the same feat. This illustrates a state of affairs where opportunities in life were decided and dictated by attributes like one’s sex, color or creed.
Universities today are actively courting diversity on campus and adopting ways to increase the enrollment of students from different backgrounds. They employ admission parameters which duly factor in the applicant’s background, and recognize the personal commitment and effort required from the applicant to reach that position. Life experiences like being the first-generation college aspirant with a lot of college credits but hailing from a ghetto, having attended low performance high schools are not less valued than high GPAs and academic credentials. They provide scholarships, conduct outreach programs in cities with diverse populations, arrange campus visits and employ existing diversity students to attract people from their circles. They source students internationally and offer scholarships in an effort to meet their diversity goals. Diversity on campus is possible with students of both sexes hailing from different races, states, countries, religions, rural/urban backgrounds. These students enrich the educational efforts by bringing with them a wide variety of interests, talents and perspectives to stimulate each others’ minds and catalyze them into revising their whole world-views.
Attracting and enrolling diverse students into an institute does not automatically result in promoting cultural exchange and mutually beneficial learning. The institution has to invest in ensuring that quality interactions occur on campus among the students. Diverse teams can achieve cohesion within the group only if they overcome their apparent differences to improve interaction within the team. A emphasis on their shared goals and a collaborative approach are necessary to bring them together. Even the classroom interactions must be designed to encourage the students to embrace the diversity, to be culturally responsive and to think in pluralistic ways instead of retreating into their individual shells or groups.
It will not be possible to foster inclusiveness, team work or create an environment respectful of the others’ civil rights, without:
The strengths of such a diverse group thrown together to form a cohesive whole are multifaceted as they amalgamate the various perspectives, cultural approaches, demographic backgrounds into a clearly innovative and creative approach in all their team efforts. The formation of such a group can be considered the hallmark of the diversity program’s success.
Lessons for Life:
A truly diverse student body on campus derives a whole lot of advantages for its members from within the group; who benefit from the various lessons they imbibe for life:
As Martin Luther King. Jr. had said “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
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