The shift from high school to college can be very unfamiliar. Students go from seeing their usual ethnic groups to seeing students of mixed ethnic backgrounds.
Diversity is once again back in the headlines since schools like Harvard University are being sued for their recruiting practices.
College is usually a place for students to be able to interact with different races and cultures.
And, for SPU, its student population has become more diverse over the years.
Yet Sociology and Urban Studies Professor Devin Heyward believes that the faculty diversity is nowhere near as close as the diversity within the student body population.
“It’s important to have diverse faculty members just so that we could have different kinds of conversations because you know all the theories that you read in your textbooks, in your powerpoints or even the documentaries you watch and it only gives you so much,” said Heyward.
Moving in a positive direction, Heyward believes Saint Peter’s will become even more diverse in the future, as long as prices are not raised too much, preventing lower and middle class to add to the diverse student body.
“I also think that so long college tuition don’t get too astronomical, I imagine we will see a large population of lower class, Hispanics, black individuals, but if it gets to a point where it’s too expensive, it might end up swinging the other way where it’s mostly white, mostly wealthy mostly students from family in the middle class, in comparison to what we’re seeing now.” said Heyward.
Director of Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, Title V and Faculty Development, David Surrey said. “Right now, our faculty is 21.5 percent non-white, and that seems to be low, given the fact that 82 percent of the students are non-white.”
However, he added that in his 35 years of teaching at Saint Peter’s, there has been a dramatic increase by the numbers of diversity within the faculty as of 2010. The faculty was 14 percent non-white, he said.
Surrey believes that it was a big step forward that the 80 faculty members had to go through inclusion training and diversify their curriculum. Surrey feels the school could do more to promote diversity and diverse courses but thinks the students could also do more.
“Students can demand more courses that reflect who they are. In the traditional courses they can demand more readings about who they are, and it won’t compromise the curriculum, it’ll strengthen it,” said Surrey.
Ethnic professors, though few, are being hired, the student body ethnic groups are growing and mingling and campuses are becoming diverse.
But what exactly is diversity?
According to a study done by WalletHub, as of 2018, the most diverse city in the nation is Jersey City, which is home to three colleges: Hudson County Community College, Saint Peter’s University and New Jersey City University.
“It is being inclusive with other people and other races, ethnicities and just a whole melting pot of communities,“ said HCCC student Ashley Melo.
Melo, a film major student at HCCC, is aware that Jersey City is very diverse, but doesn’t think that HCCC is very diverse. She points out that the school is known for its mostly Latino population.
More than half the students enrolled in Fall 2013 were Latino/Hispanic, while African American students made up 14-18 percent and White students, 10-12 percent, according to the HCCC’s 2013-14 fact book from the office of institutional research and planning.
“It gives us room to be open-minded towards other people and their cultures and beliefs, and there’s a lot more talking space when there are people from different backgrounds coming together and meeting up especially in a small community or like in a college like HCCC,” said Melo. “I guess it just allows us to understand and educate ourselves more on other people and that also helps be respectful to other people,”
A couple of blocks down at NJCU, criminal justice major Melissa Garcia, believes that NJCU is diverse, although a lot of students don’t even notice it.
“I do believe NJCU is very diverse, but like always you do see those groups that stay in whatever circle that they feel most comfortable, which 99 percent of the time is their ethnic group,” said Garcia.
“Yes, every day you see someone different, there is no one ethnic group that’s in the majority population, and here at NJCU it’s so diverse you feel super comfortable,” she said.
Many colleges instituted affirmative action policies soon after the Civil Rights movement to diversify its student body and encourage minority students to apply.