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Chico State should strive for diversity in deed, not name


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Illustration by Liz Coffee

Illustration by Liz Coffee

Chico State’s student population is becoming increasingly diverse. The school can officially be considered a Hispanic serving school now that the student body is 26 percent Hispanic.

In the last 10 years, Chico State’s Hispanic student population has almost tripled.

Its black student population has also risen from 267 students in 2004 to 315 students in 2014.

Oddly enough, American Indian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander populations have declined by almost half.

It’s nice to see that more students from non-Caucasian ethnic backgrounds are choosing Chico State. The closer this college’s demographics match the nation’s as a whole, the better.

However, it’s not enough to simply slap a gold seal of diversity on the campus and call it a day.

As Chico State’s Hispanic and black student populations rise, the university needs to make added and intentional efforts to accommodate those students.

Chico State’s student body is currently about 50 percent Caucasian. This student body is taught by a team of faculty that is approximately 80 percent Caucasian. Looking beyond the campus, these students will be living and working in a town that is also about 80 percent Caucasian.

If the university truly wants students of color to feel welcomed and supported during their four to five years in Chico, then it needs to invest in current leadership programs and foster diversity conversations on a larger scale.

Currently existing programs on campus, like the Cross-cultural Leadership Center, can be effective outlets for students to put diversity into practice and build relationships with people from other backgrounds.

However, with events that are largely shunned by Chico State’s Caucasian student population, the CCLC’s efforts in fostering diversity oftentimes hit a wall.

Chico State should be striving for a campus that is diverse in both name and deed, it can start by addressing student apathy towards the tough and necessary conversations.

Students of color aren’t the only ones who suffer from a campus that is unprepared to foster diversity.

Faculty members of color are oftentimes pinned with the responsibility of mentoring students of color: overseeing organizations, advising students, attending retreats and events, etc.

The growing students of color population can’t expect to receive the support and mentoring they need when faculty of color remain few and far between.

Creating the necessary spaces to have a successful, diverse campus  will take more work than new advertising on signs and pamphlets.

It will take more than just good intentions and the desire to see students of color succeed.

Chico State won’t be truly diverse until  it does the groundwork needed to help students and faculty of all ethnicities feel welcome and empowered.

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Chico State should strive for diversity in deed, not name