Anthony Gaetano: Diversity improves a College Campus

A college campus is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. With thousands of students on campus, the diversity of students is unreal. Every day, students are out socializing with new people they meet from across the country, or across the world. Diversity expands  one’s worldliness. College may be the first opportunity some people have to interact with people from diverse groups. At home, we may have found ourselves segregated from other groups in our schools and communities because they may not be a part of our home lives, or some of us may not have been allowed around those of other cultures. A college campus is basically opening a door to the entire world, without traveling all over the place to meet new people. Diversity can also improve social development. Interacting with a variety of people widens one’s social circle by giving them many different options and chances to speak, associate and develop relationships with people of other cultures and races. Diversity on a college campus can also prepare students for future career success. Success in today’s economy is vital to a good life, and with today’s diverse workforce it requires sensitivity to human differences. The ability to relate to people from different cultural backgrounds is not always easy to come by. Colleges in America are more diverse than they ever have been in our nation’s history, and this just opens up so many more opportunities to go and learn about other cultures.

Interactions with people who are different from ourselves increase our knowledge of other cultures. Research has shown that we learn more from people who are different than us than we do people who are similar to us. We tend to “think harder” when we encounter new material in college, and this same thing applies when we meet a new diverse group of people.

Diversity can also improve our creative thinking. It expands our outlook on issues or problems from multiple perspectives. These work to our advantage when we encounter new problems in different situations. Instead of viewing the world through our own eyes, we can see the world from the perspective of others. This helps us make decisions and weigh issues of morality and ethics.

Diversity on a college campus can enhance self awareness. Learning from people of different backgrounds and experiences than yours can sharpen your self-knowledge and self-insight by letting you compare and contrast your own life experiences with others whose experiences differ from your own. By becoming more self aware, students will be more capable of making decisions about their academic and professional life in the future. Research shows that the overall academic and social effects of increased racial diversity on campus are likely to be positive, ranging from higher levels of academic achievement to the improvement of near- and long-term intergroup relations.

When you talk to people who are different from you, it may be difficult in the beginning, especially since there can be major differences. But as you increasingly talk to people who are different than you, you will come to adjust to all conversations and enjoy talking to people who are completely different than you. By opening up to others and to the diversity of the college campus, and what the world has to offer you, it will allow you to talk more openly with other people and exchange ideas, beliefs and lifestyles. At almost any school with an emphasis on diversity, it will be really difficult not to find someone who is very different from you, and it does make socializing a bit more interesting and more of an enjoyable activity. James Baldwin goes on to explain how one’s language can define who you are as a person. He claims, “It is the most vivid and crucial key to identity: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.” This can help us realize that our language towards others can impact how we act as a community. If people go around being rude to one another and express awful physical and mental language towards others, then the diversity throughout the campus will be less social and not many people will get out and socialize to meet new students and learn about other cultures.

Due to being a college freshman, I have already been exposed to the diversity of the campus. Not only meeting people from almost every state in the country, but I have also met people from different countries. From the United Kingdom to Puerto Rico, I have become associated with people from all over the world. These new friends have helped me become more accumulated to college life, and at the same time we have taught each other about ourselves and how we do things back in our home towns. Diversity makes a college campus special, and can improve almost everyone’s experiences.