Colleges ‘diversify’ in Ohio
The state of Ohio is home to many different universities of all different sizes and cultures and yet, they all share the same problem: diversity — or lack thereof.
“There are a lot of people who grow up without being exposed to diversity and the older generation mindset is all people see at a very young age,” said Bill Cohen, a graduate teaching assistant of engineering at The Ohio State University.
I researched and compared three different universities and their diversity and inclusion programs within the state of Ohio. Those schools include the University of Toledo, the University of Cincinnati and OSU.
I considered size, popularity, competitive programs and of course student representation, but chose to focus on these three schools due to the representation of the three different sizes of the typical universities in the state of Ohio.
UT has a total enrollment of around 23,000, while UC has 44, 000 and OSU has a total enrollment of around 58,000.
In a list of 100 of the most diverse universities by Niche.com, only one Ohio university was represented: Case Western Reserve University.
That same publication released a list of the most diverse universities in the state of Ohio. Out of 61 schools, UT is ranked 32nd, one ahead of OSU and two ahead of Bowling Green State University.
In an interview, UT student Carter Steude and UC student Tyler Siebert both said that they did not see any issue with diversity on their respective campuses.
Each university offered many different programs and trainings to create a more welcome and inclusive environment, yet many students are not aware that they were even implemented in the first place.
“People don’t want to be educated on the subject,” Steude, a third-year education major, said. “They believe it is someone else’s problem and not theirs so they don’t do anything about it.”
At UT, the month of April means Diversity month. UT is offering different forums and events to engage and welcome students from all over the globe in addition to educating students on the subject of diversity.
Shanda Gore, chief diversity officer at UT, said that while UT is making strides, there is still work to be done.
“It’s important that we support one another and continue to have these conversations,” Gore said.
In addition to this new initiative at UT, UC has started inclusive workshops that are new for this school year in addition to holding different events, such as hosting guest speaker Jennifer Eberhardt.
The associate chief diversity officer at UC, Kathy Riehle, said the university stands by their mission to make campus environment inclusive and welcoming to students, staff and faculty. UC sits at number 14 on the list of most diverse universities in Ohio, doubling both UT and OSU.
“When you walk around campus, it sure doesn’t seem like there is an issue,” said fourth-year architectural engineer at UC, Tyler Siebert. “Almost everyone gets along and it comes right from President Ono really.”
UC President Santa Ono has created a partnership with students and staff to refocus on diversity efforts around the university. Some of those include new diversity teams and committees, new strategic hiring efforts and holding different discussions on the topic of diversity and inclusion.
According to the rankings, the majority represents 80 percent of OSU’s campus with only 20 percent representing the minority. Like other universities in Ohio, OSU offers different inclusion workshops, diversity forums and hosts many different guest speakers to speak on the subject at hand.
“OSU is such a big campus with a large number of different students, anyone who wants to learn or know more can by just walking into the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” Cohen said.
All universities are different but these three all still choose the same path towards a more accepting university. While many different outcomes come from given efforts, the university can only do so much.
“Everyone works incredibly hard,” Gore said. “Everyone is working from their own place to make sure students feel welcome and safe while studying at UT.”
To learn more about diversity at the UT, you can contact the university’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Engagement at 1-800-586-5336.