Multiculturalism And Diversity On The College Campus

Many colleges and universities strive to promote multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusivity. In higher education, diversity encompasses sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability status, and gender identity. Diversity extends beyond the student body to include the faculty and staff, administrators, and campus culture.

Diversity and inclusion on college campuses benefit students in several ways. Studies show that racially diverse student bodies report higher academic achievements. Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds increases critical thinking. Diversity in education improves academic and interpersonal skills, better preparing students for the workforce. Plus, colleges that prioritize diversity and inclusion make everyone feel welcome on campus.

This page offers resources and guides for students and faculty on how to determine whether a college values diversity and inclusion. You can also discover tips on getting involved on your campus and in your community.

Multicultural Guides and Resources

We created a series of guides that provide comprehensive information on how colleges serve and empower students of varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds. These guides highlight the many educational, financial, and social opportunities available to postsecondary students.

College Resources
for Hispanic Students
College Resources for
Students with Disabilities
Financial Aid
for Minority Students
Helping Women
Pay for College
International Students
Guide to Studying in the U.S.
LGBT Friendly
Colleges and Resources
Women in STEM

Finding an Inclusive and Diverse College

Many colleges promote diversity and inclusion in their mission statement. They may run an office or department devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, colleges should go beyond simply making a statement; they should exemplify their commitment to diversity and inclusion in their classes and campus life.

Prospective students should thoroughly research inclusive colleges, prioritizing multiculturalism and diversity. This section offers tips and suggestions on how to research inclusion and diversity on college campuses.

  • Attend a Few Classes

    Sitting in on classes can help prospective applicants learn more about a college’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Prospective enrollees can also browse the school’s course catalog to see whether it offers classes on topics related to multiculturalism and diversity. Additionally, prospective students should look at the faculty itself. Does the college hire diverse faculty members? Are faculty members researching topics related to diversity?

  • Speak to Multicultural Administrators

    Colleges often employ multicultural or equity-focused administrators to support their goals. Meeting with administrators can help prospective students gain insight into the school’s commitment. Ask about campus events and activities that promote inclusivity, including student groups. Also ask whether the school offers programs and trainings on inclusion for students, faculty, and staff.

  • Check Out Student Groups

    Students can get involved on campus in several ways. Prospective students should research how many student groups related to diversity and inclusion a school features. For example, LGBTQ student groups, international student organizations, and interest groups for women or students of color can indicate an active campus community working toward diversity and inclusion.

  • Do Your Research

    In addition to exploring the campus itself, prospective students can research the school’s reputation when it comes to multiculturalism, equity, and diversity. For example, the Campus Pride Index ranks colleges based on their LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. Prospective enrollees can also examine data on diversity in the student body, including socioeconomic diversity.

  • Stay with a Student

    Current students can provide their perspective on the school’s diversity initiatives. During a campus visit, try to meet with undergrads or even stay with a current student to learn more about diversity and inclusiveness from the student perspective. While administrators offer a top-down view of the school, current students can share their experiences on campus.

  • Sift through Scholarships

    Many colleges offer their own scholarships to recruit and support students. Does the school offer scholarships that support women, students of color, LGBTQ students, and international students? Investing in diversity on campus by providing financial aid to historically marginalized groups can show a school’s commitment.

  • Look for Innovation

    Is the diversity and inclusion material on the school’s website more than 10 years old? Has the college updated its diversity strategic plan recently, or is the plan older than some students on campus? Did the school successfully handle any recent inclusivity-related campus issues? Prospective students can look for innovation and responsiveness as measures of a school’s commitment.

  • Research Engagement Levels

    Are students engaged on campus? Do diversity events draw crowds, or do few people attend? Examining on-campus engagement levels can help prospective applicants learn more about the campus culture. Asking current students, multiculturalism administrators, and alumni about engagement can provide valuable information.

Getting Involved on Your Campus

Finding an inclusive college is only the first step. Once on campus, you should get involved in your college community. Participating in multicultural activities and joining inclusive groups can build and promote an inclusive college environment. You can also help make the campus more welcoming to other students considering their college choices.

How can students promote diversity on college campuses? Undergrads can join international student associations, take classes that focus on diversity, and seek out interest groups to get involved. This section explains how to stay involved once on campus.

  • 24% agreed strongly that belonging to a student organization was important to them
  • 66% agreed that student organizations helped them build leadership skills
  • 40% agreed that student organizations helped them build communication skills
  • 36% agreed that they joined a student organization because they support the mission of the group.
International Student Associations

Many colleges host international student associations that promote diversity and inclusion on campus. These associations welcome international students and educate the community about countries from around the globe. Larger schools, like the University of Michigan, offer dozens of international student associations to connect students.

Departments of LGBTQ interests

Students can take classes in their college’s gender and sexuality studies department or queer studies department. Many colleges also incorporate LGBTQ issues into classes or support faculty working on LGBTQ-focused research. Check out the Campus Pride Index for more information about LGBTQ academic life on your campus.

Socioeconomic Diversity Organizations

With a mission of promoting dialogue and understanding across multiple religious sects, Coexist groups bring together students of varied religious and cultural backgrounds to engage in thoughtful discussions. They may bring in speakers from different religions, host social events or petition college administration to be more inclusive in their teaching of world religions.

Female-Oriented Interest Froups

Women can seek interest groups on campus or join national organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, the Financial Women’s Association, or the Journalism & Women Symposium. Participating in campus events can help women build professional networks while in school. Many colleges also host a Women’s Resource Center for students.

Minority groups

Campus groups also unite students of color based on their majors or interests. For example, students can join organizations like the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering or the National Association of Black Social Workers. These interest groups can promote diversity and inclusion on campus by supporting students of color.

Community Resources: Getting Involved in Your College Town

College students can get involved in their town or city. In nearly every community, students can find off-campus organizations and events that support diversity and multiculturalism. For example, many communities host events related to Black History Month, screen movies related to the theme of diversity, or hold international festivals.

Students can contact local chapters of national organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or National Organization for Women, which may offer events for young people in the community. Professional organizations for women or people of color can help students build a network while connecting with professionals in their community. College students looking for internship opportunities can potentially earn credit by volunteering at organizations that support positive missions.

Getting involved can also mean finding and supporting diverse and inclusive businesses in your community. From identifying Black-owned bookshops to visiting LGBTQ-friendly coffee shops, college students can make a difference.

Diversity and Multicultural Resources for Students

In 2014, the University of California system, which consists of nine colleges, announced that it had admitted more Latino students than white students for the upcoming school year. With the dramatic increase in minority students pursuing higher education, colleges are learning how to best serve students of diverse backgrounds. Keep reading to learn how institutions are serving specific student populations.

  • American Indian

    Multiple national organizations that serve the needs and interests of American Indian students exist on college campuses today, and Arizona State University has an entire office devoted to campus-level initiatives for American Indians. For institutions currently without these groups, students can work with their college leaders to introduce them on campus. Some of the best known include:

  • Eastern European

    Though there aren’t many national organizations furthering the interests of Eastern European students, numerous colleges throughout America have active student unions and organizations offering a roster of services and events to help students feel at home. If a university doesn’t have a group devoted to Eastern European students, consider working with the Russian or Slavic language faculty to start one. Great examples of colleges serving these populations well include:

  • Hispanic/Latino

    To learn more about the numerous opportunities and services available to Hispanic and Latino students, check out our guide on College Resources for Hispanic Students.

  • Indian/Asian/Filipino

    These student populations are just as diverse as the campus programs and clubs available to them across the nation. Organizations may help Indian students celebrate Diwali, host special programming for the Chinese New Year or work with Filipino students to get settled into their dorm rooms. While some are devoted to these ethnicities as a whole, others cater to specific interests and areas of study within the groups. Great examples include:

  • LGBTQ

    Universities in every corner of the United States now have a spectrum of services, scholarships and groups dedicated to serving and empowering LGBTQ students and their allies. You can learn more about these in our LGBT Friendly Colleges and Resources guide.

  • Students with disabilities

    In many cases, students with disabilities may not even be aware of all the organizations dedicated to serving their interests and working to make their college experience exceptional. Such organizations provide a range of resources, including scholarships, accommodations, student groups and inspirational speakers. More information is available in our College Resources for Students with Disabilities guide.

    In the past, disability had often been overlooked as a diversity issue, but today more universities are incorporating disability into their campus awareness initiatives, programming and development. The disability culture is rich and diverse, so campuses who are actively spotlighting and recognizing disability as a diversity issue are bringing about important conversations and helping to reframe disability.

    Dr. Chester Goad

  • Women’s resources

    Female college students have their choice of many groups and programs at higher education institutions. Groups may bring in inspiring speakers, invite members to attend national conferences, host rallies or petition administrators to enact equality measures. With other services ranging from female dormitories to intramural sport teams, there’s a great chance of finding an option fitted to individual needs and interests. If not, take a look at some of the most innovative programs on these college campuses to get ideas for one you may want to start:

Scholarships and Financial Aid Resources

Diversity Resources for College Faculty

College faculty play a major role in diversity and inclusion on campus. Professors can encourage colleges to invest in diversity training while also modeling inclusive behavior in their classes. This section introduces resources for faculty to help build an inclusive environment both in the classroom and on campus.

  • A Diversity Action Plan

    Many colleges create a diversity action plan. Brown University’s plan includes concrete goals to make the community more diverse and inclusive. As the plan acknowledges, higher education has historically failed to prioritize diversity in the student body, even actively excluding students based on their race, sex, socioeconomic class, disability status, and gender identity. Faculty members can push for diversity action plans on their campus.

  • Creating Inclusive College Classrooms

    The University of Michigan offers tips and tools for instructors who want to create inclusive classrooms. This page explains how to create a welcoming classroom environment where every student feels safe. Professors can learn more about shaping their course content, classroom sessions, and behaviors around creating an inclusive classroom.

  • Diversity Awareness Committee

    College faculty can research diversity awareness training on their campus. These programs often provide workshops, programs, and training sessions for faculty on topics like unconscious bias, privilege, and microaggressions. These trainings help instructors build the tools to promote diversity on college campuses and in their classrooms.

  • Diversity Awareness Training

    College faculty can research diversity awareness training on their campus. These programs often provide workshops, programs, and training sessions for faculty on topics like unconscious bias, privilege, and microaggressions. These trainings help instructors build the tools to promote diversity on college campuses and in their classrooms.

  • National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity

    NCFDD offers programs and services for faculty, including boot camps on personal growth and diversity. Instructors can participate in mentoring and support services to encourage faculty development. NCFDD also offers on-campus trainings that cover core issues in academia.

  • Social Entrepreneurship: 7 Ways to Empower Student Changemakers

    This Edutopia resource offers advice on empowering students as changemakers. For example, faculty can share stories of students taking action, encourage learners to find their passion, and encourage students to tell their story. Faculty can implement these strategies in their classroom or as mentors.

  • Writing an Inclusive Syllabus

    Creating an inclusive classroom starts with the syllabus. This resource from California State University, Chico provides several examples and suggestions for inclusive statements on syllabi. For example, instructors can incorporate a statement of respect on their syllabus or add sections on the classroom as a safe zone, LGBTQ equality, or inclusivity for first-generation students.

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