Our discussion in class last week about the successes vs. the failures of the institution was really interesting to me. I think it’s easier to talk about what we’re doing incorrectly, because there is a lot and they tend to be salient, than it is to sit back and recognize the progress that we ARE making. I started looking for some information on this topic and found an article on Inside Higher Ed (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/11/16/nsse-2017-finds-students-enrolling-inclusive-courses) that talked about how student social activism has increased recently, especially since Trump has been elected. This years survey focused on diversity and inclusion because of the political climate and the findings illustrate that students are responding by increasing involvement and social activism. This in itself is a victory that I think we should recognize. Then the article goes on to discuss the demographics about the students who are active and how student activism is associated with positive outcomes. 38% of activists were students of color (compared to 28% of students of color who were nonactivists) and 23% labeled themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (compared to 8% who were nonactivists). Students who reported social activism also reported that they felt they had stronger relationships with faculty members and were engaged in learning. McCormick, the director of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) said that he thinks these are the types of students that universities should aim to recruit because they are so engaged in their roles as students.
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars (NSA), disagrees. The article goes over Wood’s point of view that “student engagement” has been conflated with “diversity and inclusion” and that these ideologies have nothing to do with quality of education. Further, that this sort of focus emphasizes feelings and intuition rather than “disciplined inquiry”. What do you think about this? Are student engagement and diversity inclusion the same thing? Does focusing on diversity and inclusion take away from the educational value of the institution?
Another interesting point that the survey and the article address is about first-generation college students. The results of the survey indicated that first-generation college students participated in less in certain opportunities (such as studying abroad) less than other students. McCormick says that he thinks this might be a money issue. I think he’s right. I also think that people tend to think less about the inequity that first-generation college students face, especially when these students are not students of color. Socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity are not the same thing. That’s something that can be easy to forget when the popular notion is that people of color are of lower socioeconomic status.
What are your thoughts?