Opinion: Diversity betters our campus community by expanding students' views
Over the past two decades, diversity has become an ever-growing topic among campus communities across the country leading to valuable experiences college students wouldn’t otherwise have.
Iowa State University prides itself on being a campus that is inclusive of students no matter their identity, ethnicity or race. The Division of Student Affairs’ primary focus is student academic success. This includes engaging, educating and discussing critical topics of multiple identities so that nobody feels excluded on campus.
While Iowa State is not free from, “racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, religious prejudice and other forms of oppression,” as stated on their website, their role is to provide resources for all students so that they feel included across the campus community. This mindset is what betters our campus community and creates a positive college environment, because all students will feel comfortable and confident in their own skin.
Iowa State also educates and employs a diverse community which contributes to the confidence of these individuals within the student body. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion supports our diverse community through committees that promote diversity and programming created for students of all backgrounds.
Our campus is a vastly diverse group of people from many countries around the world, so it is important that all students are exposed to different ideas and views. According to Iowa State’s enrollment statistics for 2021, approximately 8.2 percent of students are international students. That means almost every one in ten students are guaranteed to be diverse.
Without programming from the university like this, students would be ignorant of many of these differences within our student body. For example, students who have the 9-5 student lifestyle of only going to classes, getting food and going back to a dorm room will rarely encounter new, unique and diverse people. These resources give the opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zone and collaborate with other students who have different beliefs and ideas that stem from cultural differences.
"I know that a diverse campus experience has expanded my life in numerous ways."
A diverse campus is essential to a student’s college experience as it teaches lifelong lessons about people we may not normally meet. It is an opportunity for all students to grow as people. Without diversity within highly concentrated areas, like our college campus, students may never be regularly exposed to those who differ from them. This exposure is important because if we aren’t exposed to people who differ from us, then we will not be able to form genuine and meaningful relationships with those same people. Our line of thinking would be far too narrow.
This is especially true because people are more likely to spend all their time with those who are similar to themselves when they enter the professional world. Sure, most people will have to work with others who are drastically different from them on occasion, but there will never be another time where so many of these same people will be constantly interacting with one another. College is a melting pot where students must take advantage of all the diverse people that come with it. People would be surprised how much they can gain from spending time with people of various backgrounds.
Personally, I know that a diverse campus experience has expanded my life in numerous ways. I believe it has made me more compassionate towards others that are different from me. Having friends who don’t look like me has never made me uncomfortable, but I think it has also made me more comfortable in other social settings. I believe that being exposed to our diverse campus has changed my views on how to interpret the world around me and I think I have grown a greater appreciation towards my family due to cultural differences.
Those who fully embrace diversity on our campus will find a fulfilling college experience ripe with experiences they would never have otherwise. Experiences that leave lifelong impressions on an individual. They will understand how to interact with people of all backgrounds because they know which lines shouldn’t be crossed, be able to expand their worldview, and become more compassionate human beings– all while making great friends.
Today, compassion makes a huge difference regardless of where you go or what you do. In order to form meaningful relationships that can last a lifetime and make the world a better place, take that step out of your comfort zone to get to know someone you never thought you could understand.