Embracing Diversity

Here in Portland, we take pride in the fact that as a community we are just about as diverse as you can find throughout the entire United States. Portland is an ideal destination for all sorts of travelers, especially the younger generation in part due to the openness and willingness to accept any and all people, regardless of their backgrounds.

However, for college campuses in the Portland area, that diversity is somewhat lacking. This is not to say that there is no diversity whatsoever, because there definitely is (and much more so than plenty of other colleges throughout the United States). But when compared to the diversity seen throughout the greater Portland community, it is clear that college campuses need to step up their game.

I just recently took a visit to the University of Portland last fall, and was honestly surprised to see just how many white students there were. With how much pride Portland takes in being a diverse community, the University of Portland conveyed a noticeable contrast in that regard. I admittedly did not go into all of the various corners of the university to fully investigate how diverse the campus truly was, but walking the campus grounds in the middle of a school day gave me enough of a sample size for me to tell that diversity is not up to par with what we expect.

To fix this problem, it is important that college admissions takes full advantage of Affirmative Action. There are so many deserving minorities that can and should come to Portland, and unfortunately, without the help of Affirmative Action, many of them do not gain admission, with those spots instead being taken up by white students, which is why we are left with this lack of diversity as it currently stands.

 However, the student body is not the only aspect of diversity that needs to be looked at. I think it is safe to say that if we expect a student body to be diverse, then its faculty and staff should be as well. I am admittedly not 100% certain on the overall makeup of the faculty for colleges here in the Portland area, but am simply making a point that diversity should not only apply to the students but to the faculty and staff that teach them as well. This is so important for helping to make minority students actually feel at home when they go to class – rather than being taught by a bunch of old white men, they will be taught by people that they can relate to, helping them to excel in school just as effectively as their white student counterparts.

Diversity is something that every community can and should embrace. I am so thankful that I live in a city that does precisely this, on a daily basis. But even so, there is always room for improvement, and college campuses in particular must answer the call. Only when college communities fully embrace diversity can students in said communities truly flourish and grow as young adults.