Multicultural enrollment could strain diversity programs

Student groups at Butler University said they’re going to work harder to protect diversity in their organizations in light of the lower freshman multicultural enrollment this year.

“It is absolutely imperative that student organizations reach across the table and work with each other,” Caitlin Jackson, president of Demia Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, said.

Should the enrollment have a negative effect on membership numbers, students will need to work more with other groups, Valerie Davidson, director of diversity programs, said.

“Students will realize the value of reaching out and realize there’s real strength and power in collaboration,” Davidson
said.

Freshman Rithvi Melanta said despite the need to reach out, people tend to stick to the groups they’re familiar with.

“It’s harder for groups to be diverse when students stay in their comfort zone,” Melanta said. “The numbers are definitely eventually going to have an effect.”

Student groups still are getting started, so it remains to be seen if the enrollment will have an effect on student group membership this year, Davidson said.

Davidson said Butler’s student organizations are mighty even when their memberships are lower.

“You might have fewer people working to accomplish the group’s agenda, but the commitment to the mission is there,” Davidson said. “People are going to roll up their sleeves and get things done.”

Jackson, who said she wants to co-host an event with the Black Student Union, said the effects of a lower freshman multicultural enrollment go beyond membership in diversity organizations.

“A decrease in diversity means further marginalizing and silencing voices of diversity,” Jackson said.

Butler has seven student organizations with offices in the Efroymson Diversity Center, including Asian Student Intercultural Alliance, Black Student Union, Butler Alliance, Demia, International Club, Latinos Unidos and the Voices of Deliverance Gospel Choir.

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