By Quip Johnson
City College states that diversity is an important part of the student body and campus programs but the concept itself is difficult to define.
City University of New York defines campus diversity as being “along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs and other ideologies.”
City College does not have a standard definition of diversity but individuals can form their own opinions of what it really means.
“I define diversity as differences,” Learning Disability Specialist Ellen Conaway said. “I’ve met with students ranging from 17 to late 60s in age. Students are from different parts of the world, the country, the state and the city. Students are of different colors and backgrounds.”
City College’s Diversity Collaborative consists of African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Disabled Students Programs and Services, Interdisciplinary Studies, Labor and Community Services, Latin America and Latino/a Studies, LGBT Studies, Philippine Studies, and Women’s Studies.
The college website describes the Diversity Collaborative as “departments devoted to gender, sexuality, class, and disability studies benefited from the victories of the Ethnic Studies movement.”
Ethnic studies have been an important part of City College’s curriculum since 1969 when San Francisco State and UC Berkeley held the Three World Strikes which led to the creation of Ethnic Studies programs in colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Co-Chair of City College’s Enrollment Management Committee Carole Meagher believes City College’s ethnic diversity is particularly strong due to its location in the city.
“We know large cities are more ethnically diverse than small towns and rural areas,” Meagher said. “If you fill a hat with only white marbles, you’re only going to pull white marbles. But if you fill it with multiple colors, you’ll pull a more diverse handful.”
It’s fairly easy to visualize ethnic diversity via enrollment data the school acquires each year and Meagher released a copy of the breakdown by percentage.
Department Chair of Latin American and Latino Studies Edgar Torres celebrated in an email the increased percentage of Latino students at City College, with the campuses maintaining a percentage above 25 percent for the second consecutive semester.
“Ethnic diversity is something unique that sets America apart from other countries,” music major Johann Santos said. “It cultivates acceptance and empathy for people who may be different from you or come from different walks of life.”