How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion on College Campuses

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion on College Campuses

Is your college campus diverse?

It’s no surprise that most universities are trying to become hubs of diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, many of them are falling short––and failing their students.

There’s not only a lack of students of different races on campus but what about their faculty and staff?

National Centre for Educational Statistics reveals that “Of all full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in fall 2018, some 40 percent were White males; 35 percent were White females; 7 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander males; 5 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander females; and 3 percent each were Black males, Black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females.”

Diversity in these areas should be just as important.

Look, I’m not knocking all colleges. However, some universities need to change––they need to move from tokenism to actual diversity.

And they need a few strategies to help them on their journey.

Here are 11 strategies that universities can implement to create a diverse college campus and a safe space for their students:

1. Create a Diversity Council

A Diversity Council is a campus-wide committee that promotes diversity and inclusion at the school. And the committee would include researchers, undergraduate students, graduate students, administrators, faculty members, staff members, and alumni.

When you have a committee dedicated to diversity, you can provide resources to students on and off campus. You can also educate them in areas of gender equity/safe space/racial justice, etc.

Diversity councils should be more than just publicity for universities––they should actually help students create these safe spaces by holding all people on campus to these high standards.

Every student needs to be on the same page. And they need to be held to the same expectation.

2. Make Diversity a Priority in the Curriculum

Diversity needs to be built into campus tours and information sessions so that students can see their future represented on campus. And this diversity should continue within each student’s syllabi.

Diversity should be a part of each course so that students can see themselves and those around them represented in their learning.

When professors create courses that contain inclusive language, gender-neutral pronouns, and multiple examples, they advocate for diversity. And they show students that subject matter is more significant than their gender, race, or sexual orientation.

3. Create Diversity in Leadership

Every student should have an opportunity for leadership on campus. This not only gives them the tools that they need once they graduate, and it also gives them the ability to explore their own biases in leadership and correct their course through education.

It’s not easy to backtrack when you’re fifty-five. However, when you’re nineteen, you can make mistakes, have the chance to learn from them, and move forward as a better person.

Diversity in leadership exposes students to a variety of people. It gives them a chance to step into one another’s shoes and see the strong points of working with different people.

Remember, diversity is about people working toward a common goal. And the goal should be greater understanding, and leadership gives them the chance to gain that understanding.

Students need to see themselves in leadership roles––especially when it comes to leading activities or events that promote diversity and inclusion on campus.

4. Ensure Diversity in Residence Halls and Student Housing

In order to create a diverse college campus, students should live on a diverse floor. Diversity in residence halls and student housing will also help make a more accepting environment for all people.

When students have the opportunity to live with people who differ from them, it shows them how to resolve conflict, enjoy community, and advocate for diversity after graduation.

Diversity in residence halls helps students understand that not everyone is the same––and they should learn how to appreciate this.

A diverse college campus is a safe space for everyone––and it’s the only option that universities should be working towards.

There are countless programs that universities can offer to help promote diversity on campus, whether it’s multicultural programs or LGBT groups––universities need to be proactive about these offerings.

5. Ensure Student Representation in Campus Organizations

Campus organizations should strive to meet the same level of diversity as the school’s student body. This means that each organization should be open to students from all backgrounds and they should have a variety of role models for students to look up to.

Having diverse campus organizations helps students develop leadership skills, build intercultural relationships, and gain a better understanding of diversity overall.

Students should have access to organizations that represent their interests and identities, which is why universities need to create an inclusive environment for everyone.

6. Promote Inclusion Through Intercultural Learning Opportunities

Intercultural learning opportunities help students gain the tools that they need to cultivate a more diverse campus.

Students should be encouraged to explore different cultures and become more knowledgeable about the world around them. This can help reduce stereotypes, prejudice, and racism.

Universities should also promote inclusion through workshops and seminars that focus on cultural awareness, critical thinking, and understanding how privilege works in different contexts.

7. Encourage On-Campus Dialogue

On-campus dialogue is key when it comes to creating a more diverse and inclusive university. A successful strategy for universities would be to encourage students to talk about their differences in a respectful manner, instead of shying away from them.

Universities should also make sure that everyone has the chance to voice their opinion without fear of backlash. The conversations should be based on understanding and respect, rather than disagreements between different groups of people.

8. Increase Accessibility for Students Who Are Differently-Abled

Universities should focus on making their campuses accessible for all students, regardless of their abilities.

This includes providing resources and support services that meet the needs of differently-abled students, such as academic tutoring, counseling services, and accommodations for those who need them.

Universities should also make sure that their buildings are accessible for differently-abled students and that there are wheelchair ramps available to help them get around.

9. Implement Diversity Training for Faculty & Staff

Educating faculty and staff on diversity issues is essential when it comes to promoting a safe environment for all students on campus. Universities should provide regular diversity training sessions that focus on topics such as cultural awareness and sensitivity, gender inclusivity, and recognizing privilege.

These courses should also provide staff with the tools they need to effectively address microaggressions and discrimination when they arise.

10. Foster a Welcoming Community Outside of Campus

Universities should actively reach out to surrounding communities and create opportunities for students to get involved in the local area. This could include partnering with nearby organizations to provide volunteering opportunities or working with businesses to organize events that build positive relationships with the community.

By creating an inviting environment outside of campus, universities can help their students feel more connected and included both on-campus and off-campus.

11. Encourage Open Communication & Listening

Communication is key when it comes to creating a diverse and inclusive university campus. Universities should actively encourage open dialogue between students, faculty, and staff, as well as promote active listening among all parties involved.

Universities should also provide forums for students to voice their concerns about diversity and inclusion issues, as well as create a safe space for those conversations to take place.

By creating an environment of openness and respect, universities can ensure the success of their diversity initiatives.

The strategies mentioned above are just some of the ways that universities can create a diverse college campus and a safe space for their students. It is important to remember that creating a diverse and inclusive university takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it in the end. By taking steps to promote diversity and inclusion, universities can ensure their students have access to the best education possible––and the best professorial and administrative support.

What is your biggest struggle in creating safe spaces on campus?

Here are some more ideas to help you foster diversity:
Dr. Colleen Batchelder
As a Leadership Strategist, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Executive Coach, and National Speaker, I help leaders create companies where Millennials and Generation Z want to work. My doctoral background in leadership and global perspectives also gives me an added edge because I approach generational dissonance from all directions, including from an anthropological, theological, sociological, and ethnographic lens.