UWL Students Discuss Lack of Diversity

Karley Betzler , Staff Reporter

UWL Chancellor Joe Gow recently sent out a campus-wide email, asking for participation in a “Campus Climate Survey”.  A few questions on this survey were centered around UWL’s diversity or lack thereof. Gow wrote, “The data [from the survey results] will be used to identify strategies for addressing potential challenges and support positive diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

UWL student, Zahnah Peggs, is a senior majoring Business Administration with a minor in Racial and Ethnic Studies. Peggs explained that she believes UWL, “is attempting to do better in terms of diversity…” through various organizations. Peggs went on to say, “However, I’ve found that the consensus among students of color is the curriculum and atmosphere are not structured with their needs in mind.”

Peggs noted the difference in experiences between students of color and white students. “Frequently, people of color are asked to represent their entire racial group and often bear the burden of being the sole member of their ethnicity in a classroom setting.”

UWL Senior Grace Malek also discussed this particular issue, “I know, from hearing students of color, that being a [person of color] on this campus is difficult because they don’t often have many allies and sometimes are targeted in classrooms to be the “diverse voice.”

UWL Junior Ashley Scharp recalled being shocked when she first arrived at UWL, “I expected there to be more [diversity].”

UWL student, Marian Haile, offered up her thoughts on UWL’s lack of diversity, “I would say it’s very noticeable when you step on campus. I guess, as a poc, I feel like I constantly stand out and furthermore as a Muslim woman.”

Scharp later questioned why there wasn’t as much diversity at UWL as there are at other universities. “I wonder if other races and ethnicities are applying to our school and not getting accepted or if they’re not even applying,” Scharp went on to say, “and if [them not applying] is the reason, then I wonder why?”

Malek also pondered this phenomenon, “I don’t really know what needs to be done to solve these issues, as you can’t force diverse people to come to school here; but I really don’t believe that it’s beneficial to have such a non-diverse campus.”

UWL Junior Savannah Bergeson agreed that UWL’s lack was, “a problem.” Bergeson explained, “I don’t know if it would change my experience. I mean, it would be good to have diversity, but it wouldn’t affect me personally.”

Malek added, “The lack of diversity on campus is definitely an issue, but most white people obviously wouldn’t see it that way.White people on campus or who go to this school are comfortable and often don’t have to evolve or adjust to different cultural elements/controversies because most of us are used to whitewashed communities.”

Haile agreed that, “Diversity is what makes the world interesting and different, and when I don’t see that on campus I feel like everything is always the same and without change. A college experience should be that of a different experience and diversity should be a part of that, especially at a liberal arts college.”

Peggs also discussed this lack of diversity within the books we read for our classes, “Many textbooks provided by the university are written by white authors unless a student is enrolled in an ethnic and racial studies course. The lack of diverse authors is a great example of a change that should be made on this campus.”

Peggs’ final thought was a call to action, “Administration and staff should do their best to ensure that everyone’s experiences, namely students of color, are validated and heard.”