Editor Speaks Out: QU can afford to be diverse

By on March 26, 2008

There is a problem at Quinnipiac University. Solving a problem is not an easy thing to do, but in certain instances it is very possible to either solve it or at least alleviate it.

Many people are in agreement, including President John Lahey (see Sept. 12, 2007 edition of The Chronicle), that there is a lack of diversity at Quinnipiac. According to Merriam Webster’s English Dictionary “diverse” is defined as: 1) differing from one another, and 2) composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities.

Out of the 13 private four-year colleges in Connecticut, Quinnipiac has the lowest overall percentage of the three major minorities on campus, according to the Princeton Review. Four out of every 100 students identify as Hispanic, three out of every 100 students identify as African American and two out of every 100 students identify as Asian, adding up to an underwhelming 9% of the campus. Furthermore, there is an assumption (or fact) that Quinnipiac has a student body that is very disinterested in politics; Quinnipiac ranked No. 2 out of 366 colleges by Princeton Review on their 2008 edition of the “Election? What Election?” list.

As a student and a journalist on this campus I have often found myself wondering why our campus lacks diversity. Does the university not have enough money for more financial aid to give to prospective students who don’t have a wealthy financial background? After all, Quinnipiac ranks as 16th on Princeton Review’s 2008 “Students Dissatisfied with Financial Aid” list. Or maybe that is not the reason. Whatever the reason is, it is not acceptable.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2010 the United States will be made up of 65.1% White Americans, 15.5% Hispanic Americans, 13.1% African Americans, 4.6% Asian Americans, and 3% of other races. Attending college is not just meant to obtain a degree but to prepare its students to function in a society. By not having a realistic view of a community for four years, how will Quinnipiac students be prepared for the real world?

For any student, parent, alumnus or faculty member to not realize these problems only adds to the problems. It is embarrassing for a university trying to throw its name in the ring of prestigious schools in the northeast to tolerate the lack of diversity on this campus.

Director of Multicultural Affairs Tyrone Black has been the leader of a movement on campus to help educate the existing students on campus about diversity and understanding people. He puts in extra hours to help improve the culture here at Quinnipiac. He is in constant contact with students (more so than any other administrator I have seen at least), and is a trusted consultant among the minority community at Quinnipiac. Retreats, conferences and entire weeks dedicated to the sole purpose of educating students on diversity are put together under the guidance of Black.

Everything Black and the students who contribute to such events do certainly has not gone to waste. However, many of the students who participate in these events and discussions, unfortunately, are not the ones who need to be there. One could say it is preaching to the choir. It is beneficial and educational for these students to attend these workshops and events, but the students who should be attending these events and workshops will most likely not attend. It is people like Black who lead on this campus and are willing to take on the issues that matter the most – and we need more people like him. But there is only so much Black can do.

Although these diversity events will only improve our campus, will they constitute change? Yes.but how dramatic of a change? How many people will change because of an optional event on campus? Will it bring enough change to our campus to send a message to the administration to do something constructive about the problem?

Attacking the problems at its base will be the only way to make change. A lot of the problems we face concerning these issues stem from money. If lack of diversity on our campus comes as a result of insufficient financial aid, the university should then take some money away from all of their fancy projects and put it into financial aid. Before spending millions on new campuses, maybe we should focus less on improving our surroundings for the time being and focus more on ourselves as a community. It either comes to that, or they really need to step up their recruiting efforts in low-income areas.

A big reason that this campus lacks diversity is because an overwhelmingly large percentage of college bound students can not afford to be here. The students that can afford the nearly $160,000 price tag (for four years) Quinnipiac demands make up its student body – leaving a staggeringly high percentage of potential students that have the eligible grades to come here without a shot of attending. Even if Quinnipiac has been giving out substantial financial aid, maybe they should reconsider who it is going to. According to the Student Government Association Finance Committee, 22% of every student’s tuition ($36,980 a year) goes toward financial aid and work study. Of the approximate *$209.9 million the university receives each year from its undergraduate (5,676 students) tuition payments, approximately **$46 million of that money goes toward financial aid and work study. If $46 million is not a sufficient amount to pay the partial way for minority students, would it be too hard for them to allocate a little extra from other departments to boost the recruiting and financial aid of minorities? If money is not the problem, than what is?

I am convinced that if the university truly wanted to fix these problems, they would do it, and do it whole-heartedly. Up to this point, based on the facts and my naked eye, I cannot say that they have been ready to do so.

As a private university Quinnipiac has the right to do as they please when it comes to admissions. They charge $36,980 to attend and live on their campus and they have the right to do so. But it is not fair for the university to deny many students the opportunity to attend because of their financial background. It is my personal belief that you will find more diversity among the students who do not get the opportunity to come here than the ones that do have the privileged opportunity.

This is not only about race – it is about social and financial background. If Quinnipiac truly wants to make this campus diverse, they need to give more students who normally would not have the opportunity to come here because of their financial background, the opportunity to come here. Not only do I think they would choose to come here (a few perks including a beautiful campus, excellent teachers and cutting edge technology) but if they do, it would make our community a more diverse, realistic and conscious community.

It is time for the administration of Quinnipiac to step up and make a decision to diversify our campus . If they do not address the problem head on it is up to the students who care about the problem to show the administration how much it means to them. Students have more power than most know.

*There are approximately 5,676 undergrads attending Quinnipiac according to the Princeton Review. If you multiply that number by the annual tuition each student pays, $36,980 (according to The Student Government Association), you arrive at approximately $209.9 million.

**If you take 22% of $209.9 million you arrive at approximately $46 million.


About Jason Braff