i St. Norbert College is a diverse liberal arts institution | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Nolan Matson

I believe that diversity is an important factor in a liberal arts institution such as St. Norbert’s. According to the Mission Statement and one of the three traditions of St. Norbert: “St. Norbert College, a Catholic liberal arts college embracing the Norbertine ideal of communio, provides an educational environment that fosters intellectual, spiritual and personal development.” And “To uphold the sacred dignity of all persons.” This means that SNC believes that in Communio and the embracing of all different types’ people with their religions, beliefs, experiences and values together as one, to help create a greater good. However according to Wolfgang Grassl, a former professor who taught at SNC, he believes that diversity is not a catholic value: “No individual can be diverse, but only a collectivity. For logical reasons, it is impossible to recruit more “diverse” students, for no individual is diverse from himself or herself… There is no mention of diversity as a goal of Catholic life in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or in any of the pastoral, moral, or social constitutions and encyclicals before and after Vatican II.” Grassl is saying that, he believes that diversity cannot be a catholic value because individuals cannot be diverse from them own selves and that diversity is not mentioned in the goals of Catholic life. I would have to disagree with Mr. Grassl claim, if you were to have to have a school full of Caucasian people, who have the same background information, and similar beliefs/values then there would be no diversity from which someone can learn from. If anything, it is putting you at a disadvantage, because you are limiting yourself from being an overall better person and student. However, there is still room for improvement in diversity at St. Norbert’s.

According to U.S. News, St. Norbert’s college is not a diverse institution. This study, where U.S. News took the students of each college across the nation who identified themselves as a member multicultural member in their school and then calculated the percentage of racial diversity to the whole population of that campus. The study took counts of the student body for every campus from the 2014-2015 school year. The results do not include international students (foreign exchange students) and the overall of mix groups. St. Norbert’s College, had a 0.15 percentage of diverse students on their campus (meaning that 85% of the students here are white). Compared it to Beloit College, (who had a 0.35%) there is a big difference in percentage in diversity. This study shows that only nine other private schools that were ranked lower than SNC in racial diversity. But, since most of SNC’s racial diversity comes from the international students, which in this case it is not included in this test. SNC can still improve on racial diversity on campus by doing a few things such as: lowering the tuition rate, accepting more incoming students, and advertise the programs on campus and the values of communio.

The most important reason is that diversity allows students to learn from other people. We can learn so much from various types of diversity such as, racial, ethnic, cultural, geographic, socioeconomic, linguistic, and religious back grounds. We can also learn from diverse people’s types of interests, like academic, extracurricular, and social interest. From this it enhances our development. According to Jeremy Hyman and Lynn Jacobs, two authors from U.S. News & World Report we can use diversity to help interact and help expand our relationship with different types of people: “Interacting with people from a variety of groups widens your social circle by expanding the pool of people with whom you can associate and develop relationships.” By interacting and becoming friends with people of different ethnicities, it improves our creative thinking, self-awareness and increases our overall knowledge: “Research consistently shows that we learn more from people who are different from us than we do from people who are similar to us… Diversity expands your capacity for viewing issues or problems from multiple perspectives, angles, and vantage points… Learning from people whose backgrounds and experiences differ from your own sharpens your self-knowledge and self-insight by allowing you to compare and contrast your life experiences with others whose life experiences differ sharply from your own.” If students are opened up to different types of diversity on campus, the students will gain a better overall experience at college and become more rounded individuals because of the new information that they will acquire here at SNC.

SNC has taken created many great programs on campus to help build diversity here on campus. They have created programs such as STAR, a very successful foreign exchange program and a study abroad program. STAR is a program that is for first year multicultural college students. The goals of STAR are: to make meaningful and supportive relationships with faculty and staff on-campus, helping the students become familiar with other programs and buildings on campus, help develop these students to be successful in college, help create leadership skills and create long lasting friendships here at SNC. However, these programs are not enough to support the racial diversity here at SNC, the STAR program is just too small, and does not make a big enough impact.

In summary, not every college is going to be perfect with diversity. There will always be problems on campus about diversity. To me SNC doesn’t have any major problems, besides racial diversity. Although we have programs, with specific clubs that help with culture, race, and sexuality. These programs also help students that are included in the minority groups. However, I do believe that SNC is still improve on diversity.

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