Diversity on Campus

Posted by on Jan 31, 2013 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

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.





  1. Like everyone else, I’m really glad that you posted those statistics. I’m aware that Penn State is an extremely white campus (I’ve taught several classes that only had white students), but I had no idea it was as high as 76%. I think you make an interesting point, though, that that number encourages the university to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for minority students to find support and meet other people.

    Your questions about students keeping to themselves are interesting, too. Does that have anything to do with the research in the Gastil book that suggests we like to hang out with people who share our beliefs? Or is something else going on?

    In your future posts, I’d like to see you dig a little deeper into these issues (the other posters have given you lots of ideas) and really try to figure out what’s behind some of these larger questions about diversity, its value, and its role in education.

  2. Hey Natalia! I think that this is a great post! I love how you go straight to the point – you’re not just skirting in the corners, even though you talked about such a delicate topic. Like the others, I’m surprised by the statistics of Penn State! I’m a little more than shocked that there are more international students than there are Asians. As a state school, I didn’t think we would attract that many international students. But, then that begs to ask the question if any of those international students can double count – like can a student from China be international and Asian? Or would he just be considered international? And I think that you bring a great point about we tend to make friends with our own race. I came into Penn State already knowing a few friends from high school and coincidentally they’re all Asian! But overall, I think that it’s important to spread diversity. Different people of different races have so many experiences and views to offer that it would also be backwards of trying to get an education without diversifying one self. In future posts, I think that it would be interesting if you showed how a singularly-raced school was like or what other state schools are the nation are like. Is Penn State just the exception, or is it the norm? And also, how is it in the international realm? I feel that European schools must have really high levels of Caucasians. And at the same time, how is the diversity in schools like Harvard or Cambridge? Do going to such schools lead to more diversity? Nice first post and looking forward to reading future ones!

  3. I’m very surprised by these statistics! I was not aware that Penn State was 76% White. I have met people from all over the world here. I don’t think there is an issue with diversity here but that may be because I am not in a minority. My feeling that there is no issue comes from my experience here thus far. I have met people of all colors, from many backgrounds, and from various countries. I think it is imperative to have diversity in any setting, but especially in college. It’s at this time in our life that we are exposed to many new things and are as open as we will ever be. We have so much to learn from others, especially those of another race! For your next post, maybe you could compare Penn State’s diversity to other colleges in the US. How do we compare?

  4. I was actually shocked to find out that only 4% of Penn State’s campus is African American and was even more shocked to see that only 5% is Asian. I know that Penn State typically is not the most diverse college setting simply because that is not one of the criteria for acceptance, but I did not know that the spread between caucasians and minorities is so extreme. I understand what you’re saying though. Maybe there does need to be a way where certain races can mix together more often than a class setting. I definitely don’t think that there is any prejudice on campus preventing this mixture, but I feel that cultural values often bring people closer together. Like you, I too wish that where could be a clearer answer for the lack of diversity on our campus. Next time in your Civic Issues Post, I suggest that you maybe link to a few more articles and use some more researched material as filler to your opinion on the topic. Overall, I enjoyed your post!

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