America’s population grows more diverse each year. According to projections from the United States Census Bureau, a majority of the U.S. population will be nonwhite by the year 2050. Data also demonstrates that college enrollment for Hispanic, Black, Asian, and other students of color continues to trend upward. While Hispanic students comprised 12.1% of college enrollments in 2007, by 2017, that number had increased to 19.4%. With that being said, a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that the “post-Millennial” generation is already the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, as a small majority of 6- to 21-year-olds (52%) are non-Hispanic whites. Such shifts in demographics underscore the need for those in higher education to foster messages of acceptance and understanding and to illuminate others about why a diverse population is beneficial to all.
Global Diversity Awareness Month celebrates diversity in higher education classrooms, in the workforce, and within society in general. While Global Diversity Awareness Month encourages us to promote and facilitate racial and ethnic equity—a concept that suggests proportional access (by race, class, gender, etc.) to opportunities—at the institutional level, we also focus on fostering an environment that promotes gender and cultural equity, and one which endorses equity relating to gender identity and sexual orientation. In short, the month celebrates how a plurality of experiences, backgrounds, orientations, and creeds are an asset to our country and the organizations within it. The variety of perspectives a diverse community provides is essential to an increase in creativity, better decision making, and more innovation across the workforce.
During Global Diversity Awareness Month, many colleges and other organizations celebrate and embrace differences relating to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, and/or disability. We reflect upon and learn about different cultures and ideologies and how our diverse experiences create a better workplace. At Baker College, we consciously continue to promote messages of tolerance and acceptance.
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council has developed a number of events and professional development opportunities that foster conversations and education about diversity as well as how to promote acceptance in the classroom and in the professional world. In the past, Baker College has hosted a number of events to foster and embrace our diverse population such as the Baker College Unity Summit, and campuses across the system hosted multi-cultural dinners as well as special events such as Hispanic Heritage Month events. This summer, the DEI Council sponsored a number of seminars designed to educate staff and faculty about relevant issues relating to diversity. Sessions included discussions regarding intersectionality, race, power, and privilege, among other important topics.
For more information about celebrating diversity, visit the DEI Council’s homepage at my.baker.edu/diversity.
The National Education Association’s Diversity Toolkit is also a great resource to learn more about diversity in today’s world.
A Multicultural Calendar is available at https://www.multiculturalcalendar.com/ecal/index.php?s=c-rochest
Fry, R. and Parker, K. (2018).“Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet.” Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/11/15/early-benchmarks-show-post-millennials-on-track-to-be-most-diverse-best-educated-generation-yet/"
Current Population Survey, School Enrollment Supplement, October 2007 and 2017. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps.html
National Diversity Day. (2019). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/diversity-day.html