Editorial: More important than ever: Supporting student diversity

Diversity Cartoon
Casey Orledge/THE REVIEW
Sometimes marginalized groups can feel isolated, even when they are in the middle of a crowd..

A little over a week ago, the university welcomed the Class of 2021. This year’s class of first-year students represents the most diverse body to ever be welcomed to the university in its 274-year-long history. But as unrepresented students arrive on campuses not only here, but all throughout the country, they are reminded of the events occurring across the country that threaten their security, peace of mind, opportunities and lives.

Neo-nazis and white supremacists marched down the streets of Charlottesville, Va., brandishing tiki torches while shouting racially-charged and anti-semitic insults. Richard Preston, the Imperial Wizard of a branch of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) located near Baltimore, was caught on video firing a gun in the direction of counter protesters while shouting a derogatory epithet for African-Americans.

After just a mere 30-minute car ride from campus, students can find themselves in Wilmington, Del., where a blue van was found vandalized along Woodley Street on the same week of the university’s move-in weekend. As first-year students step onto a predominantly white campus, unpacking memories from their hometown, one African-American family had to unpack the reality that in 2017, phrases such as “KKK,” “Go back to Africa” and “Trump” were spray painted onto their vehicle.

The university has enacted top-down measures to make this campus a more diverse and accepting place. According to sources close to the Office of Admissions, minority and international student enrollment is up 20 percent from the Class of 2020, with a specific measurable difference witnessed in the Honors Program. In addition, the improved and updated non-discrimination policy, effective Aug. 1, forebodes a more inclusive climate.

While President Donald Trump’s decision to implement a six-month delay to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is blared by national news outlets on a 24-hour news cycle, Blue Hens should remember President Dennis Assanis’ own expressed commitment and support for undocumented students. If DACA ends, the Review hopes that Assanis makes good on his commitment to do all in his power to aid on-campus Dreamers.

But we are not doing enough to aid minority students on a campus that is predominantly white—and by a wide margin. First-year students can be lonely, and this loneliness can be even more pronounced for minority students who struggling to identify with students on campus who do not share their backgrounds and life experiences. As a university, we cannot just sit back and congratulate ourselves on the “creation” of a more diverse campus; we need to be holistic in how we promote diversity on campus.

Our administration has the right idea, but supporting a diverse student body goes beyond just increasing enrollment of minority students in the Class of 2021. Together, we can continue to sustain and reinvigorate our current efforts by putting the proper resources in place for incoming and returning students alike.

Editorials are developed by The Review staff, led this week by Investigative Editor Jacob Orledge. He can be reached at orledgej@udel.edu.

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