During the past week, we have learned quite a bit about the definition of and the actions behind being a publication of integrity and how we failed these standards in relation to “The Neglected Few: An Editorial,” which appeared in the Feb. 2 issue of the Etownian.
Although we do not retract our statements regarding the topic of the Diversity Plan within the editorial, we are very sorry for the harsh statements used toward political science professor Dr. Paul Gottfried in the opening paragraphs. There were alternative phrases that we could have substituted for the unfortunate word choice used to describe Gottfried’s ideas pertaining to multiculturalism in the classroom.
It is in this unintended comparison to people with much more radical views about diversity than Gottfried that we are humbled. We do not think, as our poor phrasing may have suggested, Gottfried believes we should treat people of other ethnicities differently in the classroom.
NOTE: This article has been altered from its original printed state at the request of one of its subjects.
We’re not ready for diversity. Elizabethtown College’s “push” for a melting pot community is and has been nothing more than a flimsy attempt to catch up with more prominent institutions’ multicultural recruiting efforts, only to send these unsuspecting students into an environment they’re not ready for, and one that is certainly not ready for them.
In 1999, President Theodore Long proposed that the College institute a formal plan to increase diversity on campus. At that time our African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) student population sat just below six percent. Twelve years and three diversity plans later, Etown students still reported less engagement with diversity than their peers at other institutions, according to the National Survey for Student Engagement. As students regularly demonstrate their desire to have diversity on campus through programs like the recent MLK Day activities, the question needs to be asked: what is the administration doing wrong?
1. The College needs to develop an ACTUAL plan.
In “Embracing Inclusive Excellence: A Five-Year Plan for Strengthening Campus Diversity,” the College does a great job assessing the shortcomings of diversity at Etown. It even has a seven-page list of goals to be accomplished over the five years. But nowhere in this list does it expound on how these goals will be reached, further disintegrating the importance of diversity to just a fun idea.
2. Realize that ALANA is all about diversity, but diversity is not all about ALANA.
The new Momentum program is a fantastic step in the right direction toward gaining more diversity on campus, especially from ALANA and lower socioeconomic groups. However, the lack of support from administration for other underrepresented groups, including students with disabilities, international students and non-heterosexual students, is alarming.
Of the respondents to a 2008 campus-wide survey, a startling 37.5 percent of students said they have concealed their sexual orientation to avoid intimidation. In that same survey, 54.5 percent of respondents claim the campus has not supplied them with adequate support as a gay, lesbian or bisexual person.
Similar alarming responses were brought up by students with a disability. 31.3 percent of students claimed that they have been refused accommodations for their disability by a professor, and 40 percent claim the College has not supplied them with adequate support. We see the same lack of support for international students on campus, as the College has no English as a Second Language (ESL) service for them to utilize when they arrive. The result? Frustrated student tutors, writing consultants and often professors who do not have any specific training or support to help the international students overcome the boundaries of the language.
3. Diversity must be a primary factor in hiring practices.
Even though our region has a racial and ethnic diversity of around 11 percent non-white, only 5.7 percent of 230 faculty and staff responses to a similar 2008 survey identify as anything other than Caucasian. We must make a concerted effort to increase the overall diversity of our faculty and staff around campus, so that current students recognize diversity’s role in academia and not just student life.
2012 needs to be the year the College develops a real plan, fully-backed by the administration, faculty, staff and students that outlines the true importance of diversity. We need a plan of objectives, guidelines for how we will reach them, and how the school’s population as a whole will adjust to accommodate all the underrepresented groups with the tools they truly need to succeed. Until we do this, the administration will continue to fail in its insubstantial attempts at true diversity, as it has over the past twelve years.