i SNC True Diversity | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Zach Fritz

St Norbert College is known for its famous mission statement, “communio”. Communio is a word that means the spiritual, social, and intellectual development of a person. This is a trait that is pushed by St Norbert College. This statement is a very powerful and relatable motto to live by. The problem is that St Norbert preaches the diversity that it has on campus, even though the college is well below the national average for diversity in universities. For example, St Norbert College’s website is a great place to learn basically anything about anything here at SNC. There is one small lie that was found in the Mission and Student Affairs. SNC talks about how here on campus we develop communio by acknowledging and understanding the men and women from different cultures and ethnicities. The issue is, in a data survey for diversity in all the colleges across the nation, St Norbert College was given a diversity index of .15 which means that 85% of the students here are Caucasian. This shows that there is a trust problem in the “communio” life aspect here at St Norbert College. If we were to show that this campus is a stable and safe environment for minorities, then we could develop a more diverse culture here at SNC.

A former professor at SNC, Wolfgang Grassl, believed that diversity is against the catholic values here at St Norbert. He believed that our best way to deal with diversity would be to not have it. So in this situation, we should change our thoughts on how diversity would affect our campus by just ignoring the fact and embrace our non-diverse campus. However, I do not see a positive in that. Even though I am not very knowledgeable in the catholic values, I do not think that Grassl would be either. Grassl, being a business professor, has very little merit to give such a strong claim on what catholic values are towards diversity. I personally do not think that you would benefit from non-diverse communities. You would not be prepared for the real world after college if you were only able to associate with people all from the same culture. The world is full of people of different ethnicities and being sheltered from them could not benefit you in anyway. Grassl is wrong in that fact. I am an example for how that impacted me.

Right before high school I moved to a little village outside of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Howards Grove. If you didn’t attend high school there, you wouldn’t realize that it is one of the least diverse schools in the state. The reason I say that is because it was a high school where there was absolutely no diversity. Every single person in my high school was white. This made it weird for me, especially as an athlete. I played many sports so I was always traveling, and to me and my friends we would look like deer in headlights when we would see people of a different ethnicity because we were so sheltered when it came to that. We did not know how to react to it. All in all, this personal story disproves Grassl’s claim towards positive benefits resulting in lack of diversity. Not being exposed to the differences in the real world would hinder your ability to communicate with people from different cultures.

I believe that SNC is stuck in a really bad time to try and increase diversity at college. Even though its STAR program, a group of minority students that participate in activities together and try to create connects so that they feel welcomed by their own cultured people, is a very strong program that creates a happy environment for the minorities here, the events around the college campuses across the world is creating the issue. With the racial riots and threats, like at Missouri, it is understandable for people from different backgrounds that aren’t like everyone else to feel hesitant about being in that type of environment. Here, STAR lets their members witness that there is no hostility here at St Norbert College. I believe that this program is having a positive impact on the people of that 15% percent because I see their happiness and they seem comfortable here. If people were able to put aside the fact that just a few institutions across the whole United States were corrupt and just look at campuses individually, we could increase our surprisingly low diversity level.

That being said, St Norbert College shows to be a great place for anyone across the world to attend and receive an education. Also, communio at SNC is not dependent upon diversity. You can enrich your wellbeing without having to learn about those from other cultures, but that is a unique experience and a beneficial tool. While in high school, I made friends with a foreign exchange student from Italy and it was like being in a country without having to make a trip. A personal experience of mine can vouch for the fact that a lot of good can come from interacting with someone of a different ethnicity. Also, that interaction can make them feel welcome. I had a friend in my FYE group, whom is an African American, and she said that she feels surprisingly comfortable here. The reason I use the word surprisingly is that she didn’t feel very welcome at here high school but with the friends she made here she feels like she belongs. The benefits from diversity affect both the majority and minority in positive ways. We may not have a high level of diversity here, but it’s a very positive community.

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