Generally, when someone hears the word diversity, they automatically think of race and ethnicity. Although those are certainly components of diversity, it is narrow-minded to stop there; too narrow-minded for Castleton State College’s expectations.
Recently, the college has been taking strides to make our campus a more diverse place in all spectrums. Better understanding ones sexual orientation, religion, race and ethnicity will make our college a better-rounded, inclusive community, college officials believe.
The college has hired two new staff members whose mission is solely to improve the diversity of the college by attracting students from across the globe.
Just this year, there are 16 new international students on campus, bringing the total to 35.
The goal as part of a 10-year plan is to increase that number to 125 students, or 5 percent of the overall enrollment.
In addition, the school created the Council on Inclusive Excellence, which recently sent out a survey to all students and faculty seeking valuable data to help plan more ways to make campus more inclusive and tolerant.
Castleton President Dave Wolk is a big believer in creating a more inclusive and diverse campus community.
“Our mission it to attract and retain new students who will contribute to enhance diversity as well as mutual understanding in the global village that is our modern day world,” he said in his convocation address.
But the effort goes beyond the hierarchy of the college.
The 1 in 10 club last week held a coming-out party in the Campus Center and gave away t-shirts to those who came out, or were supporters of those who have come out.
In her campus wide email announcing the event, Kaylee Robinson urged people to partake and “start living your life outside of the darkness.”
But although these efforts are all steps in the right direction, are they enough?
It is arguable that a majority of campus is not involved in any of these plans. One could say that increasing the enrollment for out-of-staters and those from other countries is just another way for the school to make more money than they could by filling classrooms with Vermonters. One could claim that we are just not in the right place demographically to be considered a diverse, inclusive college.
But those are just opinions.
Tatenda Shumba, one of the college’s new international students from Zimbabwe, said he’s happy here and the atmosphere was comfortable. He did have one request though to get more activities for students to interact.
Castleton understands that it will take effort and energy to achieve ultimate inclusiveness and diversity here. By supporting the various new clubs, involving ourselves in the community, and even just having an open mind, we will have a more inclusive community, and everyone will benefit.
The efforts being put forth to include rather than exclude are noble, and awesome.