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CU is known for its high academic ratings, the 300 days of Boulder sunshine each year, and it’s several D1 sports teams. However, the campus is also known for its predominately white student body, and the lack of diversity is a factor that some community members feel needs improvement.
CU Admissions boasts an increasingly diverse campus with each passing year. Statistics have shown that the number of white students continually drops, some years by one-tenth of a percentage and more recently by one percentage point.
According to the Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis, in the fall of 2012, of the 29,278 enrolled students, both undergraduate and graduate, 73.2 percent are identified as white. In comparison, a census taken in fall 1988, 82.4 percent of the 23,750 enrolled students were white.
Fall 2012 enrollment currently consists of 17.8 percent of students categorized as minorities. Some questions arise as to how the admissions process could further increase diversity, and if instituting affirmative action may create these changes.
The University of Texas at Austin made news headlines recently for the controversy surrounding its use of affirmative action in its admissions process. In September of 2009, Abigail Fisher filed a case against the university citing that the university used “reverse discrimination” in the admissions process when she applied. Fisher was ultimately rejected from the school.
Dominic Scotto, a 20-year-old junior international relations and global studies major at UT-Austin, disagreed with Fisher’s claims.
“Quite frankly, as a UT student, it is outrageous that she thinks she was denied because she was white or because her spot was given to a minority,” Scotto said. “Personally, I feel that race played no part into my admissions process.”
Scotto is a member of the International Affairs Society at UT and has met people from all over the world as a college student in Austin.
“I imagine UT to be a diverse campus,” Scotto said. “Taking a walk around campus, I can hear a variety of different languages ranging from Japanese to Spanish to Russian to Arabic. From my experiences, diversity is an essential part of the culture of UT, one that contributes to the learning environment, and one that the students and the administration hope to preserve.”
Similar cases have turned up all across the United States in recent years. The Supreme Court ruled the use of affirmative action in a private school in Seattle, Washington unconstitutional in 2006.
David Aragon, the Executive Director for Student Success at the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement, believes that diversity betters the learning environment at CU.
“I think increased diversity will benefit everybody at CU. It will also benefit the citizens of the state of Colorado,” Aragon said, adding that in the admissions process, “race is only considered as a secondary factor in association with a lot of other factors.”
Aragon said that furthering diversity was discussed as an initiative at the State of the Campus Address, which was delivered by Chancellor Phil DiStefano in October.
“[Chancellor DiStefano] mentioned that diversity continues to be a priority for the university,” Aragon said. “We’re making gradual progress. What’s tricky is that the number of students of color has increased, but so has the number of students at CU.”
CU junior Natasha Dickson, a 21-year-old journalism major, considers diversity a very important element of CU’s campus.
“[Diversity] is an important thing because I think you learn from people who are different than you,” Dickinson said. “You don’t learn by being around people that look like you and act like you. The value of seeing a different face or someone with a different point of view adds to your overall education.”
“Diversity is not just about race,” Dickson said. “It’s important that you hear from people that are abused or have been adopted. That’s diverse also, and we don’t take that into consideration. They should be trying to make the community more diverse because it’s good, not because it’s a certain number that they’re trying to meet.”
Kaelie Brice, an 18-year-old freshman communications major, feels that CU is doing a good job when it comes to campus diversity.
“I think the admissions process is definitely improving with [diversity] every year,” Brice said. “I think that [affirmative action] would be fair in the admissions process. It allows for more diversity within a university.”
Matthew Serapio, a 21-year-old junior business major, said that he considers diversity to be something more than just one characteristic of a person.
“Affirmative action deals with diversity and it just depends how you define diversity,” Scrapio said. “If I, as an Asian-American, grew up in a neighborhood that was very white, would you consider me diverse or not? I consider myself very American.”
As CU continually works to increase the amount of students with different backgrounds on campus, diversity is expected to grow at CU – however, the use of affirmative action as a way to increase minority enrollment is still debated.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alyx Saupe at Alyx.firstname.lastname@example.org.