opinion   |   oped

EDITORIAL: IU must continue to work toward diversity on campus


IU recently won a diversity award for the fourth year in a row, The Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine, which measures a school’s success in broadening diversity and inclusion.

IU was one of only 13 out of 98 recipients honored as a diversity champion

This is an important achievement that should be celebrated, but of course, IU should keep working to foster diversity on campus in many different ways.

76.4 percent of IU students are white as of fall 2018, according to the IU Institutional Research and Reporting, which makes the school a PWI, or a predominantly white institution. Therefore calling the school itself diverse is a bit of a stretch. 

The conversation needs to center on fostering diversity while making the school a better place for minority students. It is not necessarily a question of getting more minority students to attend, but of ensuring they are welcome and have the proper resources they need for the best possible education.

Therefore, faculty must ensure that they are not teaching solely to the standards of white students. This can be as simple as ensuring the diversity of materials being taught in class. 

The IU English department sets a good example. There are many literature classes focused on ethnic writers and world literature, but there are also many general literary history courses that could easily fall victim to teaching only the white canon, but actively do not. The “classics” that define this canon were not only written by white men, and many syllabi in the department reflect that. 

For example, in a course about 18th and 19th century literature, we read works from many women and authors of color including Hannah Crafts, George Eliot and Leonora Sansay.

Of course, English is just one example. From a broader perspective, college education should inspire critical thinking, especially about racism. Sharing perspectives from a diverse array of scholars is essential. A lot of professors already prove this commitment to diversity in learning, but it is time for all of them to do so, which brings up an important point.

According to a 2011 study by the National Education Association, students of color show higher retention and completion rates when they have the support of minority faculty members.

In order for IU to foster diversity of students, it must do so for faculty as well. In 2016, of the full-time and tenure track faculty members, there were only 308 minority faculty members out of 1,095 faculty members. Diversity does not end at the student body. A diverse faculty shows that white professors are not the only arbiters of knowledge.

Fostering diversity means that we must work to make sure minority students have the best possible resources and support. It also means that we must work every single day to shift education from its white, colonial roots and consider the best means to educate every student.

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

More in Opinion

Comments powered by Disqus