The issue of diversity is one that I feel is always at the forefront of my mind. Especially since I’ve observed what Penn State has to offer in terms of diversity on campus and its various programs for minority students. Before I decided to come here I was warned that there would be no one like me and that I needed to think carefully about how important diversity is to me. Thankfully, I feel that I have been introduced to people who are just like me but others who are different as well. If you didn’t already know there are many programs and organizations that help to foster diversity here at Penn State. First there’s FastStart and also Blueprint which are both peer mentoring programs for minority students. It’s very likely that a person of color will be made to feel included on a campus that doesn’t seem to have very much diversity. This definitely reassured me because when you look at the specific statistics for diversity at Penn State, it’s a little daunting. 76% of the students here are Caucasian while only 4% of students are African American.
I believe that the way that diversity plays out on a college campus is distinctly different than it does in a “real world” context. Especially on this campus, everyone seems to keep to themselves. Asians with Asians, the Black people stick together, and so forth. Not that I don’t like keeping company with people like me but various problems could arise with this setup. For instance, no one is going to mix unless you’re put in a setting where you have to. I’m not talking about a classroom setting where there is always a variety of ethnicities. I mean the people you eat lunch with or party on a Saturday night with. If you don’t make a conscious effort to make your social circle implicitly diverse then it won’t be. I obviously do not have all the answers as to why people break into such clusters on a big campus such as this. Maybe it is for comfort; people stick with what they know. Or perhaps there is just a comfort in spending time with people who share your same experiences.
The one thing I do know is that diversity is important in all aspects of life. Especially in a college setting, the need for diversity is great. With a great amount of diversity, one learns to appreciate not only other cultures but their own as well. In addition to cultural education, one can become worldlier simply by being exposed to other cultures. The U.S. News article I previously mentioned helps bring the issue of diversity into a much needed national debate. Race relations is something that should matter to everyone, not just minorities.
I don’t feel that my experience here at Penn State is hindered in any way shape or form by the seemingly lack of diversity on campus. If I want I can immerse myself in all types of cultures. However, I do wish that there could be an answer to be found for the questions that I asked earlier as to why this campus is not more diversified. Leave your comments and opinions below whether you completely disagree or see the same things that I do here on campus.