OPINION: A call for more diversity

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Diversity is an inclusion of more than one race, gender, age, geographic, ethnicity or nationality. Although we live in the middle of Kansas, we should try harder to have inclusion that many other colleges have. K-State should be fighting for more diversity on campus, as according to the K-State 2014 enrollment summary, the number of non-minority Wildcats is approximately three times that of minority students.

According to a February 2012 status report for the Higher Learning Commission, titled, “Toward a Deeper Realization of Diversity At Kansas State University,” the Higher Learning Commission conducted a review in 2001-02 of K-State for continuing accreditation that showed there was a lack of progress in diversity. It was suggested by that commission that the university have a deeper realization of diversity in all aspects in order to move forward. The school then hired a new associate provost for diversity and created a plan to promote diversity with 10 key dimensions.

It has been acknowledged that positive change has happened on campus since then. All colleges have a diversity point person appointed at the dean’s level. The number of minority students enrolled has increased, and so has the number of awards for diversity excellence. More remains to be done, though.

We need to increase the number of scholarships for minority students. Perhaps some of the money being spent on the construction of new buildings on campus could be better allocated to minority scholarships?

Despite the number of minority students being small, minority organizations have thrived and exceeded expectations. Student leaders from multicultural groups have made an impact on campus, but other areas are in need of urgent attention. The strategic plan for more diversity has yet to be fully carried out. This plan addresses issues such as recruitment and retention of underrepresented students, faculty and staff, multicultural curriculum transformation, scholarships and awards for diversity excellence.

Pending results from the recently concluded climate survey by K-State students and staff will shed more light into those areas that are crying out for urgent intervention. Those results are to be announced and reviewed April 29.

According to a Jan. 15, 2014 Pew Research Center article, titled, “College enrollment among low-income students still trails richer groups,” connecting low-income students with colleges and universities is a challenge, even with those students who are the best prepared for college-level work. Raising tuition and fees will not help students hoping to attend K-State either, and we face a less acknowledged hindrance in attracting diversity amongst students. Many of those students who have come here and have eventually chosen to leave have stated that they’ve often felt secluded.

We need to develop better retention strategies and make minority students feel a part of the K-State family.

Maya Tilmon is a junior in mass communications.

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