By Letter to the Editor
There was an opinion article last week that criticized Union for its lack of diversity and challenged students to “start a club, a program, or a community outreach center aimed at increasing the amount of minority students here at Union College.” As a senior, I can attest that increasing diversity at Union is indeed a major area of improvement for the college, and it is also a challenge that has been undertaken by students, faculty, and administration for a number of years.
Student organizations like the National Black Law Student Association and the National Society of Black Engineers have existed and thrived at Union alongside programs like Posse and the Academic Opportunity Program, which help encourage minority students at Union. In fact, this outreach to minority students starts at the high school level as Union sponsors academic summer programs geared toward minority youth. Many Union students are involved in outreach programs like this and have been for years.
I would kindly encourage the author of last week’s article and those who feel the same way to look into how they can help these programs, instead of assuming they do not exist. The perspective that Union lacks diversity because it is expensive, elite, and does not offer athletic scholarships utilizes stereotypes and fails to see diversity within diversity, as it maintains the myopic perspective that race is the sole determiner of diversity.
Students here span a variety of economic backgrounds and religious affiliations. We have students representing different sexual orientations, students with disabilities, and countless artists, musicians, athletes, academics, activists, writers, student politicians, and journalists in our midst. They are all certainly qualified members of our campus who contribute to its diversity.
Instead of simply assuming that racial minorities cannot afford a Union education or are not accepted without the help of an athletic scholarship, our Admissions Office is actively examining the applicant pool to diagnose what factors are deterring minority applicants. Is it our cost, our curriculum, our location, where we choose to recruit, our admission’s pitch? Personally I don’t know. But what I do know is that the people who have the greatest influence with regard to how welcome racial minorities feel on campus are us, the students of Union College.
Andrew Davis ’11