Saturday 25th February 2017,
The Denisonian

Where does Denison stand on diversity

JOSHUA LEE ‘20

Special to the Denisonian

When arriving at Denison University on move in day, I couldn’t have been more excited to be living on my own.

Adrenaline rushed through my body and sweat pierced my face, I found solace in the fact I’d be leaving my mom and starting a new chapter in my life very soon.

What caught my eye right away was that I could count every person of color on my fingers.

As an African American, I couldn’t avoid the questions of: “Is Denison diverse?”

Well, this is a question that isn’t easy to answer, which is exactly why I chose to spark this conversation. I was able to interview people, which allowed me to shape my opinion on the topic, which I will soon reveal.

To start on my journey of writing this op-ed, I interviewed two students from the class of 2020, who come from very different experiences.

One student lives in New York City, which is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., and another student is from a small predominantly caucasian town in Ohio.

The student from New York grew up in a neighborhood that consisted of people from different backgrounds, and she talked about how her friend group was always diverse while growing up.

She said, “While Denison was academically there for me, I found the school not to be very diverse.” 

Uprooting herself and coming to Denison was an extreme demographic change for her.

When interviewing the other student from Ohio, her response was quite different.

She explained that they grew up in a neighborhood with mostly people who looked like her: caucasian. She thought Denison was diverse compared to where she grew up.

As I was interviewing her, it clicked in my head that people’s opinions on diversity at Denison are determined on how they grew up demographically.

My life’s experiences have afforded me opportunities to interact with many cultures.

Although I grew up in a diverse city neighborhood, I ventured out of my neighborhood to attend school in a suburb that was predominantly white. Consequently, coming to school in central Ohio wasn’t a shock for me, unlike many of my fellow minority friends I’ve met here.

This year, the percentage of people of color at Denison has increased with the entering class of 2020 according  to the ASA (African Student Association).

This was big news for the association when announced at last week’s meetings. We hope and wish that it will go up for next year’s entering class.

So where do I stand on diversity at Denison?

I’ve come to a conclusion that Denison is in a state of working on it. Do I think it’s extremely diverse? 

No.

Do I think it lacks diversity ultimately?

No.

So I pose a question to my readers.

What is diversity is to you?

Do you believe Denison is diverse?

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