Written by: Zenobia Harris, Asst. Features Writer
Valdosta State University is home to a lot of different things, but diversity may not be one of them.
According to the VSU 2013-14 profile, there were about 9, 328 undergraduate students last year. Of those students, 51.9 percent are listed as White, 35.8 percent as Black or African American, 4.9 percent Hispanic, 3.0 percent Multiracial, and less than five percent listed as Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and unknown.
The city of Valdosta displays similar demographics with a majority of residents being listed as White, followed by African American, then Hispanic, and so on.
In terms of the ratio of Caucasian to African American students, VSU has a pretty standard mix of race for the location, but the realms of diversity extend far beyond black and white, or even race and ethnicity in general. There are many other factors to take into consideration such as religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc. These factors all play an important part in making our campus more diverse.
There are students here that are different from the majority. They come from different places and have different experiences that matter and are worth understanding. However, people often fear or stay away from “different” and what they don’t understand, so the bigger question is whether culture and diversity is being nurtured at VSU and in the Valdosta area?
There are several factors to be considered that may suggest a larger need for diversity. As an observation, students don’t seem to be extremely encouraged to intermingle and go to events or join organizations that put them outside of their cultural and social norms, or their “comfort zone.” While there are some organizations that promote diversity or consist of people from different backgrounds, there could be a lot more done by many organizations to encourage students to join who may differ from the status quo.
The other problem may lie within the school’s location. VSU is a college located in the south, an area that historically values tradition and “keeping things the way they are” in regards to race, politics and other factors.
While the university is supposed to be considered a society within a society— creating a different environment than the surrounding region— often the beliefs and characteristics of the area bleed over into the university. The overall environment can certainly have an impact on diversity and the type of students that apply to and attend VSU.
If more international students and minorities were encouraged to attend, integrated well into VSU, and the students and faculty promoted a more diverse environment, more minorities and more international students would come to the school.
College can be a completely different society on its own. It allows students who may not come from very diverse places to meet people from different backgrounds. In order to promote an atmosphere of acceptance and cultural awareness, VSU has to be more open to embracing diversity and making sure all students feel comfortable, appreciated and accepted.