A Culturally Diverse Student Body Essay, Research Paper
Recent changes in American society have resulted in increasing number of minority students enrolling in colleges and universities. Differing views among these ethnic groups can sometimes cause conflicts for students of all races (Cozic 249). Some argue that students and universities benefit from these ethnic conflicts. Same time others believe that increasing racial diversity in American colleges and university has led to a decrease in the quality of education.
People who support multiculturalism in universities believe that students who can resolve conflict in racially diverse universities will be better prepared to succeed than students at universities that are more homogeneous (Cozic 249). Conflict is expected, perhaps even healthy, in a social situation where people have different interests and compete for scarce resources (Duster 251). Some American schools are racially integrated, so it is not surprising that students experience shock and tension when they arrive at their first experience of multiculturalism (251). But shocks like this maybe a good preparation for future life. According to Duster, nowadays students are far more competent, far more eligible, far more prepared than when this [Berkley] was an all-white university in 1950 (252).
Back in 1960s , when the campus was mainly white, almost every eligible student who applied to Berkley was admitted (252). But when the United States changed its
immigration laws in the 1970s, well-qualified candidates from China, Hong Kong, and Korea swelled the pool of applicants (252). Suddenly, not everyone who was eligible
could get in (252). The increasing number of minorities applying to universities created increasingly ferocious competition at the same-sized admissions gate (252).
The media, so far has chosen to emphasize the beleaguered white student who has to adjust to affirmative action (252). Isn t it a shame, stories imply, that these students are feeling uncomfortable in an environment that used to be their university (252). It isn t theirs anymore (252). Since the demographics of the United States are changing at a fast rate, shouldn t the university population and curriculum reflect more of this new reality? (252 – 53). Meanwhile, the quality of students at universities is only getting better.
Duster implies that affirmative action exists because, over the past two hundred years, blacks and Latinos have had a difficult time entering higher education, and that legacy hasn t gone away (253). There are economic barriers that restrict access to college for minorities. And these barriers aren t disappearing.
The smartest among them [Berkley students] also see that in a globalized economy, Berkley s multiculturalism can make them better leaders . (254).
The opponents of cultural diversity believe that affirmative action favors minorities whose average academic performance is unacceptably below university standards (Cozic 257). D Souza argues that the question is not whether universities should seek diversity but what kind of diversity. It seems that the primary form of
diversity which universities should try to foster is diversity of mind (D Souza 258). He says that such diversity would enrich academic discourse, widen its parameters, multiply
its objects of inquiry, and increase the probability of obscure and unlikely terrain being investigated (258).
According to D Souza, the problem begins with a deep sense of embarrassment over the small number of minorities blacks in particular on campuses. University officials speak of themselves as more enlightened and progressive than the general population, so they feel guilty if the proportion of minorities at their institution is smaller than in surrounding society (259). As a consequence, universities agree to make herculean efforts to attract as many blacks, Hispanics, and other certified minorities as possible to their institutions (259). The number of minority applicants who would normally qualify for acceptance at selective universities is very small; therefore, in order to meet ambitious recruitment targets, affirmative action must entail fairly drastic compromises in admissions requirements (259). University leaders are willing to use unjust means to achieve their goal of equal representation, says D Souza. For example, the California legislature is considering measures to require all state colleges to accept black, Hispanic, white, and Asian students in proportion with their level in the population, regardless of disparity in academic preparation or qualifications among such groups (259). Many selective universities are so famished for minority students that they will accept virtually anyone of the right color (260). For minority students, who struggled through high school, the courtship of selective universities comes as a welcome surprise.
During their freshman year, many minority students discover that they are not prepared to the college work load and it is hard to keep up with another students. For minority students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, these problems are
often complicated by a difficult personal adjustment to a new environment (261). University leaders have discovered how displaced and unsettled minority freshmen can be, and typically respond by setting up counseling services and remedial education programs intended to assure blacks and Hispanics that they do belong, and that they can catch up with other students (261). For many minority undergraduates the university s quest for racial equality produces a conspicuous academic inequality (261).
In the minds of minority students, affirmative action is not a cause of their academic difficulties, but an excuse for white racism which is the real source of their problems (263).
Cozic, Charles P. Education in America. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1992.
Duster, Troy. Universities Should Strive for a Culturally Diverse student Body. Cozic
D Souza, Dinesh. Cultural Diversity Does Not Produce Quality Education. Cozic