As we all have been repeatedly, creatively and probably unconsciously informed over the past few months, our own Temple University has proudly ranked No. 1 in diversity according to The Princeton Review’s list of “The Best 366 Colleges” As we all know, Temple has been tooting and hooting about their achievement from the moment the rankings were announced earlier this year. In fact, the university is so elated about the news that administration has initiated a new promotion campaign that plans to showcase the apparent plethora of ethnic faces on postcards and general correspondence to prospective high school students. Indeed, diversity is an issue that deserves recognition and praise if truly warranted, however this extol and acknowledgement is perhaps in need of some deflation upon further review.
Some facts are misleading-especially if used in a manner that is derived to affect a desired purpose or outcome. Consequently, The Princeton Review’s facts are surely not immune to such manipulation. The stats that were produced regarding the poll which placed Temple on its multi-cultural high horse refer to our school being No. 1, but further analysis of some data relating to the issue might lead one to develop a different conclusion.
Temple currently has a student body which is comprised of roughly 58 percent white students, 17 percent black students, 9.5 percent Asian students, 3 percent Hispanic students and 3 percent international students, according to the Fall 2007 Student Profile from the Department of Institutional Research. This is great.
But, let’s take a closer look:
Hunter College for example, a school that rests in both The Princeton Review’s best schools list and the top 10 diversity ranking, offers some information through its enrollment that may that seem in conflict with Temple’s figures. Hunter has a student body which is comprised of 39 percent white students, 14 percent black, 19 percent Hispanic, 17 percent Asian and 10 percent international!
If we’re considering diversity to be what we all conclude – the presence of students from various backgrounds – Hunter is obviously deserving of our acclaimed position. However, The Princeton Review’s poll was based on student responses rather than actual data. The Princeton Review simply asked a sample of students from their respective schools, “Is your campus diverse?” The institution that conjured up the highest majority of positive responses was dubbed the king of diversity. Unfortunately, this means that our cultural crown is looking a little fallacious at the moment.
Our university has been known for its diversity for years. For decades, Temple was known as a beacon of equality, offering opportunities to students from various backgrounds and disciplines. Hopefully this great aspect of Temple’ won’t vanish before our eyes while we’re being distracted by its hype.
What is perhaps even more disheartening when considering the true diversity of the student body is the fact that Temple is actually becoming decreasingly diverse in recent years. According to the university’s 1998 student profile, the student body was reported to consist of 57 percent white students, 20.3 percent Black students, 4.1 percent international, and 3.2 percent Hispanic. Therefore, every ethnic category excluding whites has witnessed a decrease in population over recent years.
If anyone knows the truth regarding these numbers, and the misconception affected by The Princeton Review’s diversity ranking, it’s Temple’s administration. However, they are the ones not only embracing the title, but reinforcing the erroneous belief through their own statements. The Temple Times, [the university’s administrative publication,] had this to say about the rankings:
“Temple’s unprecedented No. 1 status in Best Colleges is the culmination of a long and steady rise in the Princeton Review’s “diverse student population” rankings . . . [T]he university debuted in the top 20 in the 1995 edition and made its first appearance in the top 10 in the 1998 edition.”
Apparently, either the university isn’t aware of the makeup of its own student body or it is more fond of the diverse recognition than a diverse campus. Either way, this situation illustrates the need not only to check the facts when considering polls and numbers, but also to consider the motives of an institution, particularly one with a reputation such as Temple’s.
Jason Burr is a senior journalism and philosophy major at Temple University.