College Students and Administrators Work to Promote Diversity

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

HARRISONBURG -- James Madison University students and administrators are working to make campus more diverse. They say that creates a better place to learn.

Ricky Williams, a JMU junior, is involved in multi-cultural clubs on campus and he wants to see the university become more diverse.

“Coming to a place where I'm almost the only black student in my class is like, whoa. It's a culture shock. But, with that being said, JMU's a very open environment,” he said.

JMU Pres. Johnathan Alger and Arthur Dean, his diversity assistant, have a plan to increase diversity. That includes helping students of all backgrounds succeed, creating a more diverse faculty and staff and to think beyond demographics.

“We recognize that diversity is an educational imperative,” said Dean, “We all learn, as a JMU community, from people with all different backgrounds. We all benefit from those experiences.”

Information from 2011 shows 3 percent of JMU's students are black and more than 80 percent are white. Dean said diversity goes beyond race.

“Diversity is not about an us versus them or a win or lose. It's about the people. When you want to serve a university or a constituent of people, you want to make sure that all people feel involved, all people feel included, and that all people have a chance to share their voice.”

Williams has seen the campus become more diverse over time and he hopes that trend continues. He said people can learn from each other to create a better community.

“Something that I've never had, I can get from somebody who's right around the corner. I think the pool of information spills all over the place,” he said.

The diversity push started years ago at JMU. Thursday was the last day for the diversity task force week at JMU.


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