We’re the most colorful campus, Temple proclaims on the pages of an owl-covered brochure.
Percentages and statistics dominate the appeal, as Temple remains the eighth most diverse university in the country, according to a Princeton Review survey. This fact would seemingly be a completely
positive one, considering that most student populations are rather homogenous. We have the ability to proudly say with confidence
that we are one of the most diverse schools. But, at what point does this same diversity stop being something nobly benign, and become a marketing strategy?
Diversity has become a generic attribute placed on a Temple pamphlet, right alongside being one of the “most connected.” It has become a point of profitability in that its reputation
by far exceeds it. Temple has managed to stay afloat as one of the most diverse schools in the country, despite the drop in minority numbers – a fact, which few know.
Yet, a benchmark of our advertising fodder continues to be diversity.The central problem seems to be the question of whether or not racial variety has been exploited for something far less virtuous than it should symbolize. Diversity has become something uttered from the mouths of Temple representatives at college fairs in high schools, rather than something mentioned by racial equality activists, or even just students who truly believe in its goodness.
Diversity has even managed to become a selling point for specific aspects of Temple. That means Temple has to be the school for me! Sports are racially diverse. Our population in general is diverse. It must be diverse in every way.
Unfortunately, this hooray attitude is one that masks the fact that the school has merely used it as a campaigning slogan. Welcome to Diversity University.
On the other hand, why be so cynical? There’s no reason to be about something so beneficial to us as a community. Racial diversity is a part of the college character that only some schools can boast about, and others can only regret not having. Our diversity is something that is consistently repeated, but rarely comprehended. Many analyze our diversity as mere happenstance, citing the fact that the white student population is 60 percent and the African-American population is 18 percent, while the other 22 percent left is divided into five other racial categories.
The numbers seem one-sided and in favor of the white population. So, people tend to naysay by saying that we’re not really diverse; rather, the other schools are almost completely un-diverse.
The reason that diversity is used as a selling point is because racial equanimity is a statistic that even benefits the university economically. More programs and funds are given to colleges with higher minority rates, and because of this, Temple cannot stress its racial heterogeneity enough.
Both sides would have foundations in either argument. Temple does in fact use diversity as a selling point because we see it in nearly every college publication and hear about it from every representative that has talked about Temple.
But to deny
Temple’s diversity as a facet from which most of us have managed to learn more about other races and cultures would simply be ignorant and outright untrue. In other words, diversity can be both a public
relations sell-point, as well as a student’s best means to gain social awareness. The line between the two is thin.
It’s just our duty to know that we are a university of acceptance and equality, not of conformity and rigidity.
Rodrigo Torrejon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.