Compelling Enough to DiversifyDiversity is what everyone is talking about these days. In fact, I recently read a Washington Post transcript for an online chat about work-force diversity where the expert fielding questions was asked to stick around longer because there were so many questions.
Most people say they support the idea of diversity; however, diversity-training seminars in the workplace often are not well received by employees. Many people feel as if they are forced to attend such events, and most believe they already know everything about the topic, particularly if they happen to be associated with someone of another ethnicity. When there is backlash or resentment, it usually stems from the fact that people are opposed to what they consider to be “forced” diversity. In an ideal world, schools, companies and neighborhoods would naturally be diverse, but more often than not, proactive efforts have to be taken.
However, those that are serious about having a diverse work force or student body are always looking for the best ways to achieve such an environment, which is why we decided to publish this “Focus on Diversity” special report. Some institutions struggle to attract people from various backgrounds, while others make achieving diversity look effortless. In one of the stories in this edition, Dr. Gail Kettlewell of George Mason University says, “Diversity has to be part of your mission statement … nothing less will do.”
Regardless of what one thinks about diversity, it is an issue that is here to stay, especially with this country’s changing demographics. Community colleges have long been institutions that attract students and faculty from a variety of backgrounds. Their overall accessibility and by the nature of all that they do, from granting degrees to providing continuing education courses, not to mention their relatively low cost, achieving diversity has not been a problem for these institutions. They’re even able to boast diverse faculty and administrative ranks. Garry Boulard in his article “Diverse City” goes more indepth about “the most diverse institutions in academia.”
Kendra Hamilton, in “Truth and Consequences,” reports on the continuing assault on colleges’ and universities’ race-conscious programs. Even in the aftermath of the Michigan ruling, opponents of affirmative action would like to see race removed from the table entirely when it comes to not only admissions, but to summer enrichment and similar programs targeted toward minority students. How and to what extent schools will fight these attacks appears to vary by institution and locality.
Lydia Lum’s “Whatever it Takes” profiles two students — one Latina, one African American — who have overcome tremendous odds to get to where they are today. With some help along the way, both are attending top-notch schools this semester. These students are two examples of young people who have been given the opportunity to build lives their own parents could only dream of.
And lastly, Ronald Roach traveled to his alma mater in Cambridge, Mass., recently to cover the Harvard Civil Rights Project’s Color Lines conference. Nearly 1,000 participants gathered to share data and insights on this country’s rapidly changing racial makeup. Ronald’s conference wrap-up is featured in “When Academia Meets Activism.” Hilary Hurd Anyaso
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