This campus thrives on diversity. It’s what attracts students from upwards of 25 nations and every region of the U.S. It’s what captured the title of the nation’s most diverse college campus in the 2008 edition of the Princeton Review’s Best 366 Colleges.
But for each individual student, the concept and definition of the word may vary as much as their dissimilar backgrounds.
“I chose Temple because I knew it was diverse,” said junior Tiffany Macus, a recent transfer student. “I had been to campus before and felt comfortable here.”
Before choosing Temple, Macus attended a satellite campus of Penn State University.
Although she liked the school, she felt like there was something missing.
“It felt like a glorified version of my family,” Macus said. “There isn’t much to do when everyone’s the same.”
For Temple Student Government’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Eric Stephenson, diversity has always been important and a key component to campus life.
“If you walk around, you can learn different languages and backgrounds,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson emphasized that bringing people together on campus, regardless of their background and ethnicity, is key to understanding culture at Temple.
“I came from two different groups and both divided backgrounds make it necessary to know the other,” Stephenson said.
Though efforts to maintain diversity throughout campus may be notably strong, not all students feel like the community reaches out to others of various ethnic, religious and racial groups.
“People are comfortable with people in their comfort zone,” Kelly said.
Andrea Bernheim, a sophomore and, education major, came from a predominantly white high school in the suburbs.
When it came time for her to enroll at Temple, she knew it would be a change.
“Where I went to high school, everyone was the same,” Bernheimsaid.
Bernheim said. “At Temple, there’s a place for you.” According to Tchet Dorman, director of Student Affairs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, a unique kind of environment exists on campus.
“There are a lot of challenges students face,” Dorman said. “We want to create a campus environment and culture that accepts everyone including social and economic status.”
Dorman clarified all students face special challenges on campus, and that there are numerous programs offered to help with these cultural problems. For first-year and transfer students, the OMCA provides mentors and activities to help in the aid of adjusting new students to Temple from Philadelphia.
The OMCA will also be helping out with Latino Heritage and African-American events on campus.
“We’re really hoping to create Native-and Asian-American events on a campus-wide basis, and these events will help to support our students,” Dorman said.TSG President Juan Galeano had his own views to share on the subject.
“With different interests and common passions, how you are as a person can make you step out of your zone,” Galeano said. Still, he admitted diversity may be limited across different groups on campus. Despite this, Galeano urges students to open their eyes to new and different people they may meet.
Dorman said the OMCA will meet with student leaders later this year to plan a symposium. The OMCA also hopes to launch more heritage events and focus on integration among students, he said.
They also plan on creating two advisory boards. One will be compromised of student leaders, the other for faculty and staff, but Dorman said both will work in conjunction towards one goal: to strengthen diversity. Dorman said a survey to gauge specific problems of diversity on campus and strengthen Temple’s dialogue in the community is also in the works.
“We hope to bring together the Temple community to improve intellectual and integration diversity on campus,” Dorman said.
Stacy Lipson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.