Missy Henry – director of accessibility services and anti-harassment/ awareness coordinator – was in charge of the report for 2019 and explained the role of Title IV of HEA.
“[Higher learning institutions must] make available to current and prospective students information about student body diversity, including the percentage of enrolled, full-time students in the following categories: male, female, self-identified members of a major racial or ethnic group, and Federal Pell Grant recipients,” said Henry.
William Jewell College has stated that having a diverse and inclusive campus is one of its main objectives. It lists “Inclusive Communities” as one of the institution’s six most important values. The Diversity & Inclusion Plan for Jewell 2017-2018 gives “increas[ing] and sustain[ing] faculty, student, and staff diversity’’ as the plan’s highest level of priority, classifying it as an urgent goal.
There is a plethora of research that shows the benefits of having a diverse learning environment. Learning from the different experiences and perspectives within the student body cultivates a worldview that is more critical, rich and nuanced. One such study found that higher levels of cross-racial classroom interactions led to higher levels of “openness to diversity, cognitive development, and self-confidence” in students.
Furthermore, many scholars have asserted that, without concerted efforts to counteract overarching societal influences, the current structure of higher education reinforces societal inequalities along class and racial lines.
The selectivity of the institution that students attend affects the chances they have of graduating along with their future economic opportunities. A report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that “more than 30 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics with a high school GPA higher than 3.5 go to community colleges compared to 22 percent of whites with the same GPA.” This shows a persistent disparity that affects the livelihoods of people of racial minorities.
Although statistics are not nearly enough to ensure a just realignment of societal power dynamics, diversity statistics are a valuable starting point for this process. These numbers invite members of the Jewell community to ask important questions regarding the institution’s efforts to combat injustice.
The diversity report data shows that females make up the majority of White students on campus, but a minority of students of color.
The diversity report lacks any data on the diversity of Jewell’s faculty and staff. The benefits of having a diverse faculty are similar to the benefits of having a diverse student body. Additionally, advantages – such as an increased number of minority role models in positions of authority – help change societal power dynamics and create benefits that stem from the greater ability of faculty members to shape dialogue in the classroom.
Another potential addition that could be made to available diversity data is gathering and releasing information pertaining to the gender identity of members of the Jewell community and not just their sex assigned at birth.
The diversity report for 2020 is scheduled to be released in the coming months.