Stonehill, Wheaton Campuses Strive to Boost Diversity
April 19, 2011
By Rebecca Katz
Wicked Local Easton
White. Female. Middle-class.
Take a look and you will find that is the description that fits the majority of students at small colleges across the country.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2009, 92 percent of Stonehill's, 80 percent of Bridgewater's, and 76 percent of Wheaton's student population were white. Compare this to the 47 percent of Harvard's, 41.5 percent of Wellesley's, and 47 percent of Boston University's population and one can see that there exists a huge diversity gap.
In an effort to increase diversity, officials at smaller colleges say they are sponsoring a variety of programs to make people aware of - and accept - different cultures.
For example, at Stonehill College in Easton recently the diversity committee sponsored an event where students created Tibetan prayer flags. At Wheaton College in Norton the Asian American Coalition organized a Lunar New Year celebration and other upcoming events include a workshop for making the Korean dish, and a the Kimbap, Songkran Festival celebrating Thailand's New Year.
Wheaton College sophomore Zimbiri Dorji, a member of the Asian American Coalition, said diversity creates a richer community and teaches students the importance of acceptance.
"Diversity allows for individuals to open up to new ideas and cultures, if nothing more than to just accept them," Dorji said.
Students at Bridgewater, a university that has more than three times the number of undergraduates at Stonehill, pride their school on its diversity.
"I believe that the campus is full of diversity, and there are many opportunities to explore and share this diversity among Bridgewater students, such as student-run clubs and event," said Emily Harrington, a senior at the school.
Erin Teehan, also a senior, said he believes Bridgewater's Center of Multicultural Affairs does a great job spreading the importance of diversity.
"The center is a home base for many of the cultural organizations on campus. These clubs host many events to educate students on different aspects of cultures from different countries," she said.
Liza A. Talusan, the director of Intercultural Affairs at Stonehill College, says that many clubs at the Easton school focus on diversity, including the Student Government Association Diversity Committee, Diversity on Campus, Asian American Society, Spanish Club, RISE (a Women of Color Discussion Group), MOSAIC (a Men of Color Discussion Group), among numerous others.
But Talusan said more still needs to be done.
"The bottom line is that it isn't easy. There are so many pieces, so many factors, so many steps, so many demands, needs, ideas, and everything that goes into it. No easy solution. No easy answer. But, that shouldn't stop us from moving forward, right?" she said.
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