Diversity: It’s Not As Black and White As You Might Think

“However, diversity goes beyond this to what we call ‘invisible’ diversity. Invisible diversity includes those attributes that are not readily seen, such as work experience, marital status, educational background, parental status, income, religious beliefs and affiliations, geographic location, or socioeconomic status.”“What is Diversity? It’s More Than Race or Gender,” distributed by University of Michigan Health Systems

Brittany Madera

Brittany Madera

On Wednesday, June 26, Caleb posted some statistics about diversity at IUP, including percentage breakdowns on race and gender. It made me think about what diversity really is. We had talked about it before, but I took this chance to do a little reading.

In our discussion in the Command Center (our office in Davis Hall), lots of us brought up the fact that diversity shouldn’t just be about the color of your skin. People can be diverse in different ways, and saying that it is all about race or gender means that we’re ignoring some other issues, like these:

How many of our students…

  • Have parents who went to college?
  • Are older than 40?
  • Have children?
  • Are married?
  • Have a disability?
  • Are paying their own way through college?
  • Are a certain religion?
  • Come from an urban location?
  • Come from a rural location?
  • Were abused as children?
  • Are struggling to pay bills?
  • Are financially stable?
  • Are LGBT?
  • Went to a large high school?
  • Were homeschooled?
  • Are Democrats?
  • Are Republicans?

Although we’d always like to preach that people are more the same than we are different, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that these differences are there. And, more on the point, these differences count just as much toward our diversity as anything else.

I found a blog post by Maria Martinolich, an undergraduate from Boston University, that focuses on this same subject. She came to the same conclusion:  While racial diversity plays a part in being a multifaceted university, it’s not the only thing students (or statistics) should focus on.

Part of the draw of going to a university is the ability to be around people who are unlike you. Restricting that “unlikeness” to just race and gender is leaving out a big portion of what makes our students unique.

What do you think? In what other ways in IUP diverse?

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