Diversity requires proactive outreach

Over the past few weeks, there has been an intense dialogue about diversity at Puget Sound.

Some people think Puget Sound needs to increase its diversity and others think Puget Sound is not prepared to support a more diverse student body.

Both points have merit, but one question people don’t seem to be asking is, why aren’t minority students applying to Puget Sound to begin with?

Of the 4,500 who apply to Puget Sound, 3,900 are admitted. The student body is 75 percent white and reflects a clear majority at Puget Sound.

This fact cannot be blamed on the University.

If minority students are not applying to go here, the only way to increase diversity is to spread awareness about the school.

Renee Simms, professor of African American Studies, thinks that Puget Sound should participate in reaching out to students of color during their college application process.

“I think that the institution has an obligation to do outreach. Anyway that we can improve our outreach is crucial. There is a huge opportunity in Tacoma to reach out to students of color. We have to be more proactive in letting them know it is a welcoming place that they can attend,” Simms said.

There has been a lot of skepticism about whether or not Puget Sound is welcoming to students of color and both sides have valid points.

If the University increases its participation in outreach, student and teacher diversity will increase. Hopefully then the Puget Sound community will become more supportive and more attractive to perspective minority students.

Unless a change is made, the cycle will continue and Puget Sound will carry on as a predominantly white school.

“Word of mouth is very important. The more students of color we attract, the more they will go back to their communities and talk about the school,” Simms said.

Recently, SF Gate reported on an African-American student from Oakland, Calif. named Akintunde Ahmad.

Ahmad received acceptance letters from numerous universities including Yale, Brown, Columbia, Northwestern and the University of Southern California. He graduated with a 5.0 GPA and scored 2100 (out of 2400) on the SAT.

Highly intelligent minority students usually get great offers from top colleges.

Puget Sound would benefit from having a student like Ahmad.

Most students, however, don’t think about applying to a small liberal arts college with extremely high tuition and a low minority population.

In order to get more people like Ahmad at Puget Sound, we need to create a more open environment and not let tuition drastically increase every year, which starts with the students and the faculty.

If people don’t feel like their problems will be understood, there is no reason they would want to come here.

There is definitely still a lot of change that needs to happen, but the future is looking quite promising for Puget Sound.

With the passage of the KNOW requirement, many students and faculty are excited for what is to come.

According to the Puget Sound website, “the Diversity Strategic Plan is aimed at creating a culture of inclusive learning.”

The first goal of the plan will increase the recruitment and retention of students, staff and faculty from historically underrepresented groups.

It may be five, ten or twenty years from now but hopefully one day, Puget Sound will be known for its diverse student body and its welcoming atmosphere.