Chico State: The Harvard of the West


Illustration by Melissa Joseph

Coming to Chico was the biggest culture shock to me. I was born and raised in Southern California my whole life and back home, diversity was all I knew. 

Coming here, I was so surprised to see very little diversity and it almost made me laugh during class discussions where others would say Chico was “very diverse”.

Yes, it may be a little diverse but compared to other places. Coming to Chico was the first time I felt out of place. 

I felt a bright spotlight on me, with the warmth of it making my entire body uncomfortable as I sat in my seat. As I melted into a puddle of insecurity from the eyes observing me, I seemed to sink deeper and deeper into a sense that I did not belong here. 

Chico State claims to be diverse which may be well-intentioned for the sake of a good heart or a hungry wallet. Whichever the case may be, I believe we need higher statistics about minority student enrollment  before campus can truly claim to be diverse. 

As of now, the demographics on diversity could possibly rank us as another “Harvard of the West Coast.” 

The statistics between Chico State and Harvard are pretty close with undergrad demographics for Chico State showing 43% white, 34% Hispanic/Latino, 2.7% black/African American, 5.5% Asian, 5.3% two or more races and 6.6% unknown. The demographics show that the faculty and staff are around 70% white, according to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Chico State.

Harvard’s demographics show 45.8% white, 12.2% Hispanic/Latino, 14.3% black/African American and 25.3% Asian. These statistics were taken from each institution’s official website.

The school  claims to be diverse, however even those a part of diverse clubs feel hidden. Taylor Austin, a member of the Black Student Union club on campus, does not feel the support from Chico State either. 

“All of the diverse spaces are pushed into one hallway,” Austin said. “Many of the white students don’t even know that we exist.” 

If Chico State truly cares about diversity, these clubs that are created to unify different ethnicities should be recognized more on campus. More events should be put on to acknowledge different cultures and the minds of the majority should become more understanding toward the matter. We live in a world where differences are ignored rather than admired. We need to take the time to educate ourselves and listen to stories and the cries from the unjust society we live in. 

There is a reason why the minority still fights to break down a barrier of stereotypes. We are all human, no matter the color of our skin or our different accents. We still bleed the same.

White privilege is a wall of protection that most don’t acknowledge. Although life is easier for someone who is white, that does not give them a pass to ignore real ethnic issues, which consists of an unjust criminal system and violent crimes against people of color.

Chico State and the majority need to stand up for diversity and support one another as much as the majority.

Before claiming to be diverse, Chico State should open their arms to increasing diversity not for the sake of their image but for the sake of changing the world.