Butler University welcomed a record-breaking class last weekend.
It was not size, but the group’s diversity which put it in the school’s history books. The class of 2017 is the most ethnically and geographically diverse freshman class to date.
Of the 1,025 new students, 14.4 percent label themselves as “multicultural,” the highest figure Butler has ever seen in that category.
The class features students from 22 different countries, including England and Jamaica.
The group also broke another Butler record by including more out-of-state students than any freshman class in university history.
Only 43.4 percent of the class are Hoosiers. This class represents 32 different states.
“The more we come to represent the population, the better experience our students have,” said Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management.
Levester Johnson, vice president of student affairs, said the university is not where it wants to be regarding diversity, but it is taking more steps to get there.
“Any diversity in our community really adds to the richness and to the growth of the students,” Johnson said.
Butler’s Office of Admission has reached out to multicultural students by providing ways—including funding-—for them to visit campus prior to making their college decision, Weede said.
Increasing the diversity on campus will lead to a more vibrant and energetic environment, allowing students to get a taste of a global world, Johnson said.
Worries in Housing
This year’s class contains almost 100 fewer students than last year’s.
With 1,111 students being admitted in fall 2012, Butler’s largest ever freshman class, Butler was starting to face the issue of not having enough available housing for students.
Johnson said that, although the fall 2013 group is still Butler’s third-largest class in university history, the Office of Admission worked on accepting a specific number of students that it was sure Butler would be able to handle.
An increase in class sizes the last few years started the conversation about creating more residential areas, said Karla Cunningham, director of residence life.
Up to this point, housing has not been a problem because Butler has been working on maximizing the space it has, Cunningham said.
This year, some sophomores who did not get rooms in Residential College moved into Ross Hall or Schwitzer Hall. But Cunningham said that, if rooms open up elsewhere, these students will be offered other choices.
Residence Life clustered sophomores in dorms with other sophomores, forming sophomore units, Cunningham said.
The biggest benefit of students living with students of the same age is that it allows them to be with others who are going through the same experiences, Cunningham said.
Major Choices Similar
Although diversity increased in this year’s class, some things about the class of 2017 are similar to those of years past, specifically when it comes to majors.
As in previous years, Exploratory Studies — a major for students not ready to commit to one area of study — has topped the list of majors for the incoming freshman class.
Johnson said Butler’s Exploratory Studies major is so popular because there are so many areas of study for students to pursue.
The next most popular majors in this freshman class are Pharmacy, Biology, Education and Psychology.
Business did not appear on this list because it is considered an area of study and is divided into a variety of different specific majors.
Ben Keller, a freshman accounting and finance major from Spring Lake, Mich., said he came to Butler for the Business school’s good reputation and to get what he calls “The Butler Experience.”
Caroline Bonini, a freshman marketing major from Cincinnati, said she chose Butler because she feels it is a close knit community.
Music education major Michael Boyd of Lexington, Ky., said he is most excited to begin “finding a good group of friends, exploring Indianapolis, and finding a passion for the city and culture that surrounds me.”