Admissions implements changes to address diversity deficit

June 7, 2017

This fall, Tulane welcomes its most diverse class in history with 21 percent students of color and 5 percent international students.  Compared to the graduating class of 2017, which was 15.6 percent students of color and 2.1 percent international students, diversity is on the rise, and Tulane admissions hopes to continue this trend with changes to the department.

The admissions department adjustments made for this year include a more diverse staff, application and financial aid workshops, a multicultural fly-in program and college planning workshops for local students in grades 8-12.  The admissions staff has also made an effort to work with other offices on campus to ensure the success of their diversity initiatives.

“Our staff makes it a priority to be engaged with current student leaders and work in collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Academic Equity on new as well as existing programming,” Toni Riley, diversity recruitment coordinator and admissions counselor, said.

Departmental efforts do not end after admission, but continue on to each student’s experience at Tulane.

“We can’t merely recruit a faculty, staff and student body that better reflects the population of our city and world,” Riley said.  “We also have to ensure that the Tulane community is welcoming and supportive of these students, faculty and staff regardless of their race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.”

Part of these efforts include departments like the CAE and the O, which provide resources to students from diverse backgrounds on Tulane’s campus. CAE offers grants, internships and research opportunities to underrepresented students.

“THE O provides students of color, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and allied students with advocacy services, mentoring, personal support, and educational, cultural, and social programming that facilitate their adjustment to the University and ability to thrive thereafter,” The O’s website reads.

While there are certain resources in place that look specifically at diverse students, President Michael Fitts said he believes establishing greater diversity is a “university-wide effort.”

Diversity at the postsecondary level can play a role in dictating the educational experiences of all students and faculty, from various offices and departments to residence halls and classrooms.

According to Patricia Marin, assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, in The Educational Possibility of Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic College Classrooms, “Students in multi-racial/multi-ethnic classes have a wider range of experiences that can be shared and used to enhance the curriculum. Ultimately, faculty members’ learning goals are better achieved in multi-racial/multi-ethnic classrooms.”

Some believe classrooms composed of students of diverse backgrounds allow for a more comprehensive learning experience, which benefits students and professors alike.

“We are better educators, better people, intellectually more rigorous, and more representative of a democratic republic, as the number of underrepresented students, increase on our campus.” Rebecca Mark, director of the Center for Academic Equity, said.

In the past, Green Wave Ambassadors were instructed to focus on geographic diversity, according to GWA Jeremy Baudy.  While geographic diversity does bring students from around the country to Tulane, there is no certainty that these students will come from as diverse a range of ethnic or socio-economic backgrounds.

The changes in admissions and campus climate initiatives this year show that the university is beginning to address the importance of diversity on a college campus.  While these changes represent steps toward increasing diversity, Admissions said they still see more work to be done.

“We’ve already started to see the results of our efforts, but we still have a long way to go in creating a Tulane that reflects what the world looks like,” Director of Admissions Jeff Shiffman said.

Like faculty and administrators, some students also acknowledge the benefits of diversity and the need to work towards an inclusive campus environment.

“We are no longer trying to hide behind geographical diversity, and realize that we do have a diversity issue, but that students are very passionate about this issue and are fighting to have a more representative administration and student body,” GWA Jordan Krum said.

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  • griffin dalyJun 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    love the steps that have been made and looking forward to even more positive progress on campus