For many students, feeling like they belong or “fit” in with others may be the key to surviving a crazy college town like West Virginia University. Not everyone shares the same thoughts and feelings when it comes to somehow fitting in. For some it comes natural, while others like to focus on school, and some just focusing on how to learn to party. But what do the students do who are simply set out to find people that share the same values or ethnic background as them?
Schools like Connecticut College, Ohio State University, The University of Texas and many others offer and support diverse cultural or ethnic organizations for students and staff. These organizations provide an environment where students can participate in discussions on diversity issues and their ways of life, all while gaining a sense of inclusion and social belonging. Also, colleges like WVU have formed diverse clubs and organizations, along with offering programs and different courses that aim to educate students of different ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs.
According to the Center for American Progress, there are 10 reasons why we need diversity on college campuses:
- Our nation is changing, and our higher education institutions need to reflect this diversity.
- While communities of color have made great strides in closing the education gap, disparities in higher education remain prevalent.
- It’s in our national interest to invest in our future workforce.
- Diversity in the workforce fosters innovation and competitiveness in business.
- Fortune 500 companies agree that diversity is good for the bottom line.
- Diversity is a national security issue.
- Diversity on campus benefits all students.
- The implications of race-neutral policies in educational opportunities are detrimental to the next generation.
- Research shows that race-neutral policies simply don’t work.
- The majority of Americans support race-conscious policies in higher education.
The original article explains these 10 listed reasons in much greater detail.
Here at WVU there seems to be little diversity, yet the school makes it a point to set aside a whole week focused on issues students from different backgrounds may face. Every day of the week has a specific schedule for each diverse event or theme. Diversity Week includes a wide range of performances, discussions, learning opportunities for students to participate in, and even poetry readings by students and faculty. Whether you are a member of the club presenting or even of the same ethnicity as them, everyone is always welcome including family and friends!
In a Chanel 5 News interview, WVU Chief Diversity Officer David Fryson said, “We’re hoping the type of things we do here will spur the rest of the state to see the value of diversity. So often when you think about diversity you think about our differences, but diversity is the collection of similarities and differences.”
Students and faculty who possess different backgrounds present each other with new perspectives and viewpoints. I feel that adding diversity to your life will only make you a stronger member of society and a more well-rounded global communicator. Diversity helps to enhance discussions during class and even outside of class, which can easily aid in preparation for students to ease into this extremely multicultural world we live in.
The Mountaineer family always sticks together no matter what ethnicity you may be– “There’s a place for you at WVU.”
Make sure to check back in next Friday when I will dig a little deeper into this WVU diversity discussion. I will be telling the story of a recent WVU graduate, Susmita Patel, who actively participated in an ethnic organization while attending school. I will discuss her thoughts on discrimination and how these WVU student groups help international students cope!