[244] Diversity at the Christian College

[244] Diversity at the Christian College

Christian colleges continue to struggle in attracting African-Americans and Hispanics.  There are more than a few reasons for this.  One is that these colleges draw a huge slice of their students from white evangelical churches, who by the way, are woefully behind the national population in diversity.

The colleges cannot change that.

There are things they can do.  They all involve a commitment to cultural diversity.  The key word here is cultural.  I am not talking about adding a black or Hispanic faculty member here or there, or another vice president of this or that.  This is ornamentation. A black or Hispanic student is not going to say, “Oh wow, I met this black professor.  This is the place for me.”

It goes much deeper.  Christian colleges need to examine every aspect of their culture.  Here are just a few questions for them to consider.  (Evangelical churches would also do well to adapt some of the following.)

–Do African-American or Hispanics consistently hear their sound in the music on the campus?  At least in chapel?

–Is there black and Hispanic art prevalent on the campus?

–What about the food in the cafeteria—is there diversity there?  In the campus union?

–Does the school recognize MLK Day and Hispanic holidays?

–Is there diversity among guest speakers?

–Are there courses that engage diversity?

–Are members of these groups adequately represented on student governing groups?

–Does the school have an ongoing committee whose task it is to advance diversity?

You will find many Christian colleges that cannot answer in the affirmative to any of these.  In short, they are failing to create an environment in which minorities feel at home. 

It’s not about a few more African-American and Hispanic faces in the faculty and the staff any more than that the basketball coach is a minority.  It is about an entire environment—an ethos.

Don’t try to rework diversity with white people at the throttle.  Looking at the environment through a white worldview is what has created the problem.  Call in Christian minorities who will be candid.  They are out there.  They will be willing to help.  Some are on the campus now—students.

Addressing the need for cultural diversity is a very important step.  It is not only an affirmation of the old Sunday School song, “Red and yellow, black and white; all are precious in his sight.”  It is a huge stride toward providing a genuinely relevant Christian education.  DC

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