ALANA explains the importance of diversity

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Miguel Duarante

It goes without saying that culture and race are very touchy subjects for most people. It always has—and it seems to be getting progressively more taboo to talk about this subject as time goes on, when in reality, it should be the complete opposite. However, those enrolled at liberal arts colleges and universities, such as Assumption College, should find they are at a place where students can engage in challenging and explorative discussions with their peers, co-workers and professors.

Within the last 100 years, the demographic in the U.S. has changed drastically. The U.S. Census shows that as of 1910, there was only a 11.1 percent diversity rate in the entire country. As of the 2010 census, there was a 27.6 percent diversity rate—and this number is growing exponentially.

The term “diversity” is defined in the 2010 Census list as American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino (which is defined as a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American) or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

With this being said, a liberal arts education at Assumption College aims to fully develop creative people in critical intelligence, thoughtful citizenship and compassionate service. This list includes all aspects of life. According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities the liberal arts education as one that “ […] [P]rovides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest.”

This liberal arts culture is seen every day at Assumption, as it is a small, residential college with opportunities for consistent and intentional interactions between students, faculty and staff. This purposefully created environment is just the right place to open ourselves up to new experiences, thought-provoking dialogue and personal growth and discovery.

As a previous tour guide for the College prospective students and parents often asked me “why did you choose Assumption?” My response was always the same.
“Because of the community created here. It’s a family! And because I felt a sense of belonging.”

It is always the small things: holding the door for a peer who is going into the same building as me, greeting a student whom I never met while walking to class or maybe sharing a connection because of a mutual friend you both have. These examples of how to treat others with dignity and the countless opportunities, both academic and social, to engross in contemplative matters is exactly what it means to live out a liberal arts education in real life—and Assumption excels at it.

Now, back to the original topic: multiculturalism in the liberal arts. The diverse population on campus has also drastically changed throughout the last ten years. Although it does not directly reflect the ethnic population of the U.S., the numbers have risen significantly as well. Ten years ago, diversity numbers were at less than 5 percent. The on-campus diversity percentage is now at an average of 16 percent—with the class of 2018 at population of 20 percent.

Multiculturalism and the liberal arts education complement one another well, as students seek to learn about the pluralistic society at Assumption College, but also including people of many cultures and backgrounds of our broader community. As students here, we are privileged to have access and opportunities to a world-class education and research. We can also easily expose ourselves to many students of diverse backgrounds, cultures and traditions. As a result of purposefully engaging, celebrating and crossing paths with the diverse population and taking part in diverse programs, students will be well prepared to enter the increasingly diverse workforce.
My peers come up to me often, asking if the ALANA Network is only for students diverse backgrounds. The answer to this is no. If you are passionate about learning about yourself, others and want to be well-prepared for everyday diversity in life after college, then the ALANA Network is for you.

Events like Multicultural Day, sponsored by the ALANA Network, helps students learn about various cultures and traditions. I hope you made it to the ALANA Multicultural Day to explore the many cultures Assumption College has to offer. If not, ALANA also has a Poetry Slam event coming up on December 4.

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