As reported on Union College’s website, “Union College is the most ethnically diverse college in our category (midwestern regional colleges) according to U.S. News.”
Furthermore, based on an annual survey done each year called the Union College Factbook, 42 percent of Union’s student population is made up of minorities.
Matthew Roque, director of institutional research at Union College, reports that “diversity is definitely going up.” In 2010, only 30 percent of Union’s student body came from minorities. In the past five years, that statistic has increased more than 10 percent. Additionally, that percentage is predicted to increase to 50 percent in the next five years.
With the quickly rising diversity on campus, Union College is taking steps to grow into becoming a more welcoming and understanding community.
Many of the ethnically diverse students attending Union are the first people in their families to attend college. To accommodate this growing trend, Union is working on building stronger support systems to help students succeed.
Furthermore, 80 percent of ethnically diverse students struggle with finances. Union actively seeks ways to provide financial solutions, making Adventist education accessible to a wider variety of individuals. A revised scholarship program has been put in place to help in this regard. This new plan assists students by offering them one fixed scholarship rate for all four years, rather than cutting the rate in half after the second year.
In another survey, 55 percent of first-generation college students at Union said it’s easy to connect with the faculty. With this in mind, Dr. Linda Becker, vice president for Student Services, expressed that Union needs to train faculty to better help and understand students from diverse backgrounds.
Moreover, more diverse leadership would also help racially diverse students comfortable in our community. Although Union’s staff and faculty has grown in diversity, there are not enough ethnically and culturally diverse staff members in leadership roles to motivate our student body. Fifty-three out of 60 full-time faculty members are caucasian, leaving only seven positions filled by people of minority.
Though Union College has grown drastically in diversity, there are still steps to be taken to make our campus 100 percent welcoming to students from all backgrounds and walks of life. Union College is actively taking steps to make our campus culturally rich, because as Dr. Becker shared, “Diversity really enriches Union.”
Sara Roberts is a junior Business Administration and English major.