Diversity survey reveals student perceptions

Timothy Lake

The Washburn Student Government Association was confronted with the results of a campus diversity study, and the imbalance between feelings of minority students to the student body as a whole.

Kim Morse, associate professor of history, spoke in front of the WSGA on Oct. 27 about diversity at Washburn.

She said that this is the first time Washburn has done a diversity study in the last 144 years. Morse was happy with the response rate of the survey.  There were 1200 responses, and reflected very closely the diversity climate that is currently exists at Washburn.

Morse did find some questionable parts about diversity at Washburn. One of the findings was 75 percent of students felt like they were part of the larger community, but only 46 percent of non-white students felt like they were part of the larger community.

She said that this can be a problem not just for minorities at Washburn but the student body as a whole, since 25 percent of people feel like they are not part of the larger community at the University. She said this was an issue at Washburn that needs to be solved.

WSGA senator Ivan Moya expressed that a cause of hiding identity may come from the shift of the culture of a student’s hometown to the culture at Washburn, and feel like they have to adjust to the predominant mindset of other people.

Morse also found that 41 percent of non-white students reported feeling like they had to hide some part of the culture in order to fit in, however only 25 percent of all students reported the same. Morse also stated that students who do not feel like they belong are much less likely to be able to succeed.

One comment on the study said the individual did not feel that diversity is taught at Washburn, and the individual didn’t know how truly diverse Washburn is.

Another comment on the survey read, “…these guys act like they’ve never seen a living breathing black person.”

When confronted with the question of what should be done to help decrease these problems of diversity, the main response from the WSGA senators was to help facilitate discussion about what diversity means, and help to make students feel like they belong.