Pacific lacks connection with minority recruits

posted in: Opinion | 0

Any admissions counselor on this campus would say Pacific is diverse, but what gets lost in translation is the definition. Just because Pacific has one of the highest concentrations of students from Hawaii on the mainland does not constitute diversity. Take a look around and it’s easy to notice the absence of Latino or African-American students or any other ethnic minority on campus, which begs the question: what are admissions and the university as a whole doing to promote diversity on this campus?
The local population of African-Americans is very small which makes it difficult to attract students to small-town Forest Grove when there are a variety of options for college in the Portland metro area alone. Some would argue that Pacific should have a much higher rate of Latino students because Latinos make up about 15 percent of Washington County’s population.
However, college recruiters face other obstacles in bringing Latino students to campus. For many Latino students in the area, they could be the first in their family to apply to college or are worrying about how they are going to finance their education. This is why simply intensifying recruitment won’t do much to increase the Latino population. I realize throwing money at the problem by offering “diversity scholarships” won’t instantly increase our level of diversity on campus but there are other options.
As a Latina and a transfer student, I had the opportunity to witness how another university promoted diversity on its campus.
My freshman year, I was welcomed to a different university, not only through new student orientation, but by a special invite through the Office of Multicultural Affairs to spend time with other minority students before the term started. From then on, OMA continually invited me to events to meet other minority students and alumni, provided resources for acclimating to college life and just a place to hang out.
Pacific has support groups for a variety of other groups of people on campus. The Hawaii club allows the students from Hawaii (or anyone else for matter) to get a taste of  the islands while at school. The Center for Gender Equity strives to address gender issues on campus and create a welcoming environment for those interested and affected by those issues.
But what this campus truly lacks is an institution organized by the university that offers support for students from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Portland State University recently launched a $350,000 initiative called Exito! The initiative will offer financial aid, a cultural center, internships and mentors to the Latino community at PSU to increase the school’s enrollment among Latinos.
Applying to college can be daunting, but knowing a support system is in place before even stepping foot in a classroom can lighten a student’s burden significantly. Pacific could increase its overall diversity if ethnic minorities who are considering applying knew the university had the resources to guide them through college from the very beginning.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *