Butler officials make push to diversify the student body

Butler University’s goal of diversity is appreciated by students but is not as recognizable on campus as the administration thinks it should be.

The Taste of Diversity dinner was held last week and encouraged students to “dive into Butler’s diversity.”

The gathering featured a variety of international foods, including Indian, Thai, Moroccan, Mexican, Dominican and Cuban.

Butler has not had a Moroccan, Dominican or Cuban student in at least the last decade, according to enrollment statistics from the Office of Diversity.

Based on last year’s enrollment, the combination of Indian, Thai and Mexican students made up 0.004 percent of the total student body.

Butler’s top three most-represented countries, outside of the United States, are India, England and Canada.

In fact, the total percentage of minorities enrolled at Butler is less than 10 percent and has not surpassed that in the past 10 years.

“I feel bad saying that I don’t notice much diversity,” freshman Kelsey Malcom said, “but walking around campus, it is obvious that it’s not as prevalent at Butler.”

Students involved in organizations at Butler try to promote the idea of diversity throughout campus.

“Butler does have great resources for diversity, and what I try to do with those resources is increase programs and create an environment where we, as a student body, value diversity,” said UnoBlessed Coons, vice president of diversity for the Student Government Association.

Freshman Brandon Shannon said he thinks the incorporation of diversity should be a collaborative effort.

“Becoming a more-diverse campus is not totally on the admissions office, but also on the students to embrace the idea,” Shannon said.

Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management, said that recent reductions in scholarship funds have made it harder to provide to students from diverse backgrounds, but that has not stopped the passion for it.

The state of Indiana cut its minortiy scholarship funds from $11,000 to $7,000, so some families can simply no longer afford Butler.

However, administrators are still searching for new ways to cut costs so they can help families in tough financial situations.

“We want a multicultural student body because it adds to everyone’s education,” Weede said. “It allows students to have a fulfilling conversation with individuals from all different backgrounds.”

Both the student leaders and the administration say the push toward diversity will continue to be their focus. But statistics show that the task ahead is a difficult one.

“I expect more and have been working with the staff,” Weede said. “It is like what Yoda said: ‘Don’t try. Do.’ And that’s where we need to be more successful.”

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