BLOG POST#1 DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION CONTEXT.

Before coming to the United States, I had no idea what diversity means. In my country, most students in educational setting are Saudi and we are all Muslim and female students (gender separation) based on religious and cultural norms of kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since, I’ve started my program, I’ve had experience with diverse students. I realize this is a new diversity space I have never imagined. I usually think about how we can define the diversity. I know the diversity refers to many variables. As we know about the diversity iceberg last class, some of these variables are visible, such as gender, color, and race; less visible such as age, socioeconomic class; invisible such as, religion, sexual orientation, life experience, education and skills. In the same time, diversity has many benefits to provide for educational setting, such as exchanging the cultures, ideas, opinions and thoughts even learning new languages among students, faculty, etc.
However, if I want to think about diversity in higher education institutions, I find it is hot topic and the universities with diversity in students, instructors, and stuff means they are welcoming everyone who wants to apply. I think to increase any university’s quality, diversity should be one of university mission and goals. However, enhancing diversity with universities is more complex. In any diversity space, there are a multitude of different perspectives from different backgrounds and universities with different perspectives should be taken into consideration different challenges to promote diversity in order to have better global community.
Educators who are working to enhance diversity should understand different points of view among students, faculty, and staff. I have read an article written by Manning, its title is “Philosophical Underpinnings of Student Affairs Work on Difference”, the author argued understanding multiple perspectives on the meaning of difference and the concept of diversity assists educators in their work. Manning confirmed all educators have a perspective on diversity articulated or not that supports their work. She outlined seven philosophical positions that inform university educators’ beliefs about diversity. These are political correctness, historical analysis, color-blind, diversity, cultural pluralism, anti-oppression, and social justice.
For example, diversity concentrates on structural diversity or numerical representations of groups on campus. Color-blind perspective believes in equality and does not see ethnic and racial differences and considerate them as invisible or irrelevant. Political correctness concentrates on using the correct language “talking the talk without walking the walk”. Cultural pluralism has two different meaning: assimilation or acculturation. Assimilation occurs when one culture is forced to adopt the ways of the dominant culture while acculturation involves blending cultures by choice.
Thus, according to Manning (2009), recognizing where they stand in this matrix allows educators to work more effectively with students, faculty, and staff about the complex issue of difference. I think each of these positions have their features and may lead educators to have different priorities in the higher education setting.
In general, recognizing one’s approach helps educators to understand the motivations, belief, and goals in order to take purposeful action associated with a particular perspective.

References:
Manning, K. (2009). Philosophical underpinnings of student affairs work on difference. About Campus, 14(2), 11-17.
Retrieved from
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230134737_Philosophical_underpinnings_of_student_affairs_work_on_difference

4 Replies to “BLOG POST#1 DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION CONTEXT.”

  1. Coming from an academic institution that separates the different groups, do you find it hard to come to a university that while allowing different groups is often at ends with students who are ‘different’ and do you think it is worth it?

    While a lot of universities like the publicity of having diversity at their university, they lack the action and measures needed to maintain a healthy, inclusive environment that keeps that diversity. So I like what you said about how universities that promote diversity need to try and actually understand some of those things exemplified in our iceberg activity about the students in order to help with the challenges that students who come from different backgrounds face, and ultimately if they start trying to acknowledge and/or understand those things then it can mitigate offenses that the university makes in terms of marginalizing certain people in diverse groups. Educators can also consider how they fit into Manning’s matrix like you mentioned and then try to evaluate their style to create a more inclusive learning environment. Like we talked about in class, it is often important to face these issues head on in an open way instead of maybe taking the color blind approach which just denies differences in all even though it is supposed to be a more equal style however like we saw in that video not everyone starts in an equal playing field. All in all, universities need to do better with maintaining diversity not just having it, and there are many approaches that need to be considered to accomplish this.

  2. I am glad to know that you have had an experience with diverse students here in the United States like you never had in your home country. This sounds like my experience too. I did my undergraduate in a very large university in Nigeria. Among more than 30,000 students enrolled in the university, less than 0.01 % were international students – of which 99% of the international students were Africans. While there was a good amount of local diversity in my university (i.e. students from different ethnic backgrounds), I would have appreciated having an undergraduate experience with both local and international students’ diversity. My first experience of learning in an environment with a rich student diversity was during my master’s program at Tennessee State University. I recalled being in class with students with diverse backgrounds. This provided me with the opportunity to engage with and learn from people with different background and experiences, and to be prepared for life in the real world.
    Diversity in higher education should be promoted. I am glad that Virginia Tech is committed in its efforts to providing a diverse and inclusive college environment for students. Many countries are now opening their doors to international students because of the many benefits derived from a diverse college environment. In my blog posts #1, here are some of the benefits of a diverse college environments I mentioned — diverse schools can help reduce students’ racial bias, improve their leadership skills, satisfaction and intellectual self-confidence. Also, diverse and integrated schools promote equitable access to resources, educate students that are more productive, more effective, and more creative team players who are better equipped to succeed in a global economy.

  3. It was interesting to see your background with diversity – thank you for sharing! Even though it has been brought up in school for most of my life, it was never discussed in detail until I entered college. Prior to college, schools brought up the idea of diversity briefly and usually simplified it down to planning and executing a multi-cultural day. Students would share snippets of their culture and bring different food dishes. These events allowed students to be exposed to cultures they may not have been shown otherwise. Now in college, entire classes are focused on the topic of diversity and some professors spend a ton of time acting as proponents for it. I also began learning more about diversity a few years ago because my mom got a new job as a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist after she retired from the Coast Guard. She was still working in diversity and inclusion prior to switching to the civilian sector but she spent less time discussing it at home at that time. Ideally, educators can continue to be educated on what diversity is and how to better implement it to help develop a more inclusive society for all. All the classes and events I have been to that consist of students from diverse backgrounds have been extremely enriching and I wish more students (and from a younger age) were involved in things like this.

  4. Thanks for sharing your perspective. After highschool I spent 6 months working in Qatar and the UAE, as a muslim it was really life-changing to hear the adhaan so clearly all through the city. Much like your experience here, it was an eye opening experience.

    I feel like its difficult even for most Americans to understand all of the concepts within diversity and race relations, I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be for internationals coming in. I enjoy how your reading broke down a lot of the common themes that connect a lot of these issues. I think that the next steps of finding ways to make things better and solve problems could be much easier if this was adopted by higher ups in University admissions.

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