We hear it every year: “this incoming class of freshmen is the most diverse in Westmont’s history!” Yet why does each year look the same in regards to representation on campus? Singing “Spirit Break Out” and “Que Está Sentado en el Trono” during chapel once every couple of months isn’t enough. Westmont is not fulfilling its Community Commitments of “serving God’s kingdom by cultivating thoughtful scholars, grateful servants and faithful leaders for global engagement with the academy, church, and world” when it does not adequately acknowledge its own students’ identities here on campus. Diversity is not sufficiently cultivated in chapel and there are not consistent and safe spaces for students to tackle issues of race and ethnicity and show pride in their culture.In order to best fulfill the commitment it has made to its community Westmont College needs to take potentially uncomfortable steps to better represent its student body as a whole, on a daily basis. When students hear about engaging with other ethnicities and countries, it is usually followed by information on how to sign up for a life-changing mission trip to a faraway country. The culture in said country is described as different, almost otherworldly. When the only conversations about ethnic groups in different countries revolve around what Westmont is bringing to them, a divide is created in which they are depicted as lesser and Westmont is depicted as the provider. In addition, Westmont staunchly avoids any discussion regarding the LGBTQ+ community, thereby denying them representation on campus. Thus, the community that Westmont consistently prides itself in is lost or denied to these students. Westmont: change is never easy, especially when it comes to social justice. Good implementation is vital; community is an integral tool in cultivating a welcoming environment for all walks of life. Discussion without action keeps us in one place. There should be events on campus expressing culture through art, dance, and music, celebrating identity. Chapel can start integrating new songs in other languages. As for the LGBTQ+ community, the school should recognize that there are students here on campus that identify as such and help cultivate a safe and welcoming environment by being open to conversation.
Diversity isn’t checking off a country, state, or city for a statistic and then leaving the students from these demographics to wonder where they fit in. Diversity isn’t having LGBTQ+ students hide their identity to not attract attention to themselves. In order to have a healthy community here, we shouldn’t let our fellow students feel left out.