Diversity numbers depend on criteria
Views 56 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 9 - 12 - 2018 | By: Rebekah Beeghly
Westmont recently welcomed the class of 2022, and its new students have already received quite the reputation to fulfill. The diversity of the incoming class, however, may be more exaggerated than the numbers would suggest.
Westmont’s Instagram account posted the first public announcement of the diversity of the incoming first-years. The post described the class as “among the most racially diverse, intelligent and best looking in college history!” adding the notion that “two out of three ain’t bad…” The same picture was later reposted after a backlash in response to the “two out of three” statement--when the photo reappeared, the new caption described the class of 2022 as “among the most racially diverse in college history.” The word “racially” was later removed from the post all together.
Dr. Beebe wrote about the racial diversity of the incoming class in his August newsletter, saying that the class has “nearly 40 percent identifying as Hispanic, Asian-American, African-American, Hawaiian Pacific Islander, Native American, and/or mixed-race.” But the previously a Westmont blog post from August 21 identifies this 40 percent as only 37 percent, and statistics received from the Intercultural Programs office say that it is actually closer to 36 percent (150 out of the 417 new students, or 35.9 percent). This number, however, drops even more when making a distinction between “White” and “Hispanic.” When White-identified Hispanic students (students who are ethnically Hispanic but identify racially as White) are factored out, only 123 out of 417 new students identified as students of color—bringing the total to around 29 percent.
According to the data provided by the Ethnic/International Student Enrollment Summary 2007-2017, students of color have made up at least 29 percent of Westmont’s population since 2014. We can assume that this Westmont data, too, includes White-identified Hispanics in its number though, making our previous statistic of 36 percent a more fair comparison to Westmont’s racial diversity in the past. It should, however, be noted that Westmont has increased in racial diversity by one to two percent every year for the last seven years. This makes the class of 2022’s 36 percent fall in line with previous trends in diversity next to last year’s (all student) 34 percent, but the last three incoming classes have not been greeted with such a diversity fanfare, so why did Westmont chose this year to focus on the racial diversity of the incoming class?
In 2016, Westmont conducted an “assessment of student learning in relation to the Diversity Institutional Learning Outcomes.” The study found that 48% of Westmont students in 2016 “disagreed that Westmont has a long standing commitment to diversity,” and 78% of Westmont students in 2016, “expressed dissatisfaction with the racial/ethnic diversity of the student body/enrollment.” These findings could play a role in what seems to be Westmont’s newfound push for public expression of our school’s diversity.