By Abby Williams
Tall students, short students, medium-sized students, African American students, Hispanic students, White students, students of different backgrounds. These are the people I see in my classes and around the campus of Western Michigan University.
According to Western’s Campus Climate Survey, 92 percent of the 5,600 participants in the survey said they thought that diversity on campus was honored and appreciated. I would have agreed with them — until I worked on the documentary Defining Diversity for my JRN 4100 class.
Campus has always seemed diverse to me because I see different types of students every day. However, that has changed for me now. Yes, there are a variety of students on campus but diversity doesn’t seem to spread across campus and students don’t intermingle. According to the students, when there are diversity-related events, it’s always the same people attending each year. The Haenicke Institute for Global Education needs to get the word out even more about these opportunities.
To me, diversity is everyone coming together, whether you’re African American, White, Hispanic or however you define yourself. I’m not seeing that on campus and the campus needs more programs that bring students together in an authentic way.
“If anything I would just say that they need to hold more events in which students from different places and religions can come together and share ideas,” Manuel Mateo, a student at Western, said.
Other students, such as James Thorton, said that there needs to be better marketing for the multicultural organizations on campus.
“When I first came to campus I didn’t know about them or how to join one ore who to talk to about joining one,” Thorton said. “I just think that marketing to the incoming students on how to get involved with the multicultural organizations would be a good place to start.”
While working on the documentary, I had the opportunity to attend two events on campus. The first event was the Multicultural Greek Showcase and the second was the International Festival. I found out about these events after my video producer, Mario, informed me about them. If he wouldn’t have told me first hand I wouldn’t have known about them at all.
I don’t think the diversity-related programs at WMU are doing a bad job, but it’s just that there’s always room for improvement. The students want to see more events and more marketing. The university should give it to them.