Diversity is commonly defined by basic attributes such as gender, skin color, nationality, and sexual orientation. However diversity in terms of world views is much more important and relevant than these external labels. Having a class of people with different opinions on how to change the world and what their purpose would be in it is extremely valuable to me.
If one were to look at me one would assume I was another white, athletic female with a boring suburban background. But take the time to know me, and you will find a girl born in a foreign country, who has Christian beliefs mixed with liberal views, and also two uvulas.
It is more important to me to be exposed to people with different world views, who can challenge or encourage my own, than to have 20% of my class be Asian and 30% African-American and 4.2% percent Pacific Islander. A student’s background is valuable because his different experiences have molded his views and priorities.
But simple, exterior characteristics should not be over-prioritized to use as the basis for class decisions. A class of 100% suburban Caucasians might lack a diversity of world views, but neither is diversity assured by admitting quotas of students of particular races or genders.
Spending my formative college years surrounded by people who all agree on their interpretation of a controversial text and cannot add anything new to a discussion would be a waste, of time, money and resources. I seek a liberal arts education with peers who force me to defend my opinions because theirs are different. My classmates’ diversity of ideas and outlooks will broaden my own view of the world.
College is about “leaving the nest”, learning independent of the shelter and confines of home, and assessing the values and lessons learned in youth. Joining a class of people who have grown up with different values and perspectives, who have formed different views of how the world should develop, and the role they expect to play in that development, creates the diversity that is optimal for a liberal arts education.
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