In the wake of the turmoil experienced across the globe this year, conversations about diversity and inclusion have flooded the media. As these conversations continue, addressing the issue of diversity and inclusion on college campuses has become a top priority for administrators, faculty, and students.
While this past summer highlighted the need for broader attention to issues of race, diversity and inclusion on college campuses should include conversations about gender, sexual identity, income level, and disabilities as well. In short, any population that is underrepresented should be included in this conversation. Providing equal opportunities for all to feel valued and represented needs to be the goal of these conversations.
Diversity and inclusion on college campuses provides each student, faculty, and administrator with a richer experience. When people of various backgrounds, experiences, and heritages interact with one another, respect follows. Mindsets shift and biases disintegrate. Empathy rises and anger dissipates.
Here are four additional benefits to diversity and inclusion on college campuses.
Stronger future leaders
Students with natural leadership ability are less likely to use these skills if they can’t see others “like them” in leadership positions on campus. When college administration, faculty, and staff represent similar backgrounds or populations to those of the student population, students are more likely to envision themselves in similar leadership roles and aspire to them.
Preparation for the workforce
A crucial part of the college experience is feeling and being prepared for employment. Being able to work with a diverse group of people is an important skill to demonstrate to a future employer who will place a high value on teamwork. Learning how to work side by side with one another with both similarities and differences is an important part of diversity and inclusion on college campuses.
Improves communication skills
As students are more exposed to social media, they are less exposed to real life conversations. Making comments behind a screen is vastly different than having a face-to-face dialogue with someone with whom you disagree. Diversity and inclusion on college campuses provides opportunities for in-person conversations between people with diverse opinions. Learning how to articulate perspectives, experiences, and ideas is an important life skill for college students and will improve future relationships.
Ability to be empathetic
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is not sympathy, which is to feel sorry for another person. Empathy is an important skill for building strong relational wellbeing, both in college and life. Hearing other people’s stories and imagining what it might be like to be in that place instead of your own draws people closer together and promotes unity instead of division. When diversity and inclusion on college campuses is prevalent, empathy is more likely to define the culture of that campus.
Diversity and inclusion on college campuses is a work in progress. Building stronger future leaders, preparing students for the workforce, improving communication skills, and raising empathy are a few of the benefits of building a strong campus diversity and inclusion culture.