Diversity is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown about on a regular basis at Whitworth. Indeed, the University’s website notes, “a diverse community is central to our mission as a liberal arts university committed to educating critical thinkers, discerning moral agents, and responsible democratic citizens.” However, with a population of 81.2 percent white, non-Hispanic, undergraduate day students, it may be safe to say Whitworth lacks some color.
For instance, Whitworth ranks 97 out of 107 western universities on U.S. News and World Report’s Campus Ethnic Diversity Rankings.
It is interesting to note that the population of Spokane is 86.7 percent white, according to the 2010 Census. Thus, for all we talk about diversity, Whitworth is only 5.5 percent less white than it would be if students were pulled off the streets of Spokane at random.
Whitworth is also less representative of the nation as a whole. Non-Hispanic whites make up 63.7 percent of the national population, according to the 2010 Census.
At first glance, none of these statistics reflect very well on much-tauted efforts to promote diversity on campus. Yet, with that said, it is not the goal of this board to say Whitworth is not trying hard enough to bring in a more diverse population. On the contrary, while Whitworth and the surrounding area are not statistically diverse, the university does make considerable efforts toward cultural awareness. Whitworth strives to create an open and accepting environment for diverse students.
While not perfect, there does seem to be a generally positive attitude towards diversity on campus. For example, according to a study completed by English professor Doug Sugano, “When Whitworth students were asked how they felt when talking about issues of ethnic diversity, 61% responded positively saying that they either enjoyed these conversations or wished they would happen more often.”
Another positive aspect of diversity at Whitworth is the wide scope of representation of ethnicities and nationalities, even if the overall numbers are fairly small. According to the 2011 Fall Fact Book, there are 30 countries currently represented in our student body.
As far as students are concerned, there should never be a shortage of opportunities to recognize diversity. Attending cultural events or taking classes which broaden your cultural perspective, neither of which are not in short supply, are easy ways to embrace the ideals of a diverse world.
While the administration attempts to promote diverse students and perspectives on campus, instead of complaining, students should take the initiative to do what they can to take advantage of the opportunities which have been provided for them.
Next week ushers in Cultural Awareness Week, put on by the Associated Students of Whitworth University. It is the board’s opinion that this event, as well as cultural events put on by clubs and the greater student body, are imperative and necessary if we are to live up to our goal of promoting a diverse campus environment.