Students conceptualize diversity

Graphic by Gabby Raymond '20

The data from the 2016 U.S. Census helped provide a clearer look at exactly how "diverse" Mount Holyoke as a campus actually is.

BY GABBY RAYMOND ’20 

From the recent lawn signs detailing our diversity statistics to the posters in Blanchard, the College markets demographic diversity as a key aspect of the Mount Holyoke experience. 

Yet conceptualizing diversity beyond numbers on a page is different for everyone. One consensus among students that were  randomly interviewed around campus was a need for an emphasis on diversity of thought and experience. “Demographics are important, but being able to actively showcase culture is just as important. [We can't] just expect international students to absorb into mainstream culture, but [we need] mainstream culture to accept our cultures as well,” said Daphne Kiplagat ’19. 

For a community to fully benefit from diversity, everyone needs to share their experiences and have their voices acknowledged and respected. “Acceptance is key,” said Sarah Malik ’20. “Even if there are many cultures represented on a campus, if people are constantly thinking about fitting in they won’t be comfortable enough to express themselves,” she said. 

Amal Fadoo ’20, described Mount Holyoke as, “pretty diverse. Living Learning Communities, different cultural events and specific groups for most religions allows us to show people our culture and experience it ourselves every day.” 

“I think race, gender identity and socioeconomics all play into diversity. But really it all feeds into having a diversity of experiences that we can share as a community,” said Julia Leland ’20. As a tour guide at the College she perceives the Mount Holyoke community to be very diverse. Students from 47 states call Mount Holyoke their home, and it has the largest population of international students compared to other liberal arts colleges of the same size. “Coming from an international school in London I knew a lot of people from other countries. Yet I have learned so much at Mount Holyoke. [It] has diversity of thought, and even though we are very liberal we still have divergence even among that.”

Elizabeth Brown ’20 felt differently. “We need to have more domestic students of color because they bring a different experience than international students do. We preach about financial aid, but we could definitely have better socioeconomic diversity among our white students as well as our students of color.” 

 Others were more skeptical — “Diversity is a 2009 buzzword overused by politicians,” said Mathilda Scott ’20. “Even though we have a lot of diversity it doesn’t matter if we don’t mingle together. We are guilty of falling into cliques that are dependent on our race and there’s just no policy we could implement to fix that,” Scott said.

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