UNL aims to improve campus diversity
Story, aggregated content and video by Katrina Sperl, NewsNetNebraska
Each and every year, the university increases it’s numbers in student enrollment. Of the 26,079 enrolled this fall, a majority are white.
Charlie Foster, interim director of the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, says people look at Nebraska and go oh.. that’s a predominately white institution, it’s always going to be like that. That may be so, but the students we serve come from all over the world.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln serves students from 136 countries.
“We want to be at a point where we can distinguish ourselves as a university nationally, that has a focus on diversity and inclusion,” says Foster.
Both Ryan Rustam and Alexis Fregoso, senior diversity ambassadors, said they are not aware of an increase in diversity promoted events since their freshman year.
One of the biggest diversity promoted events is called Fiesta on the Green which celebrates Latino culture and is open to both students and the public. Other big events includes one that is Vietnamese based, called Lunar New Year.
Fregoso came from a majority Hispanic high school and said the transition to UNL was not easy. He found that immersing himself into diverse organizations made him feel like home. Along with being a diversity ambassador, he is involved in a Latino based fraternity called, Sigma Lambda Beta as well as the Mexican American Student Association. Both organizations promote their share of diversity events throughout each year.
A recent event by the University is called Husker Dialogues which requires all incoming first-year students to attend. The event’s purpose is to help create an inclusive campus environment by engaging in meaningful conversations.
According to a survey conducted from the event this year, 90% of participating students agreed the student stories increased their awareness of diversity in the campus community.
Psychology major, Andy Trejo, is a sophomore and feels the University is not tailoring enough of it’s efforts towards the minority students who are currently attending.
“They (University) should be promoting the different organizations that work towards fighting against minority stereotypes so we can bring all communities together.”
At the beginning of the fall semester, changes regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program was announced.
The pending changes created an uncertainty for people who benefited from the program which included some students attending the University.
Chancellor, Ronnie Green, sent out an email to all students reminding them of the resources available to us.
“You are welcome here and we want you to be successful.. It’s my hope that you engage, work hard and invest in getting the most from your educational experience as a Husker.”
Director of the William H. Thompson Learning Community, Kelli King, says the University tries to be conscious of the different things that students may be facing which can effect their lived experiences on campus, much like this one.
Another way the University has enhanced it’s diversity efforts is by having whats called, Spanish visit days.
Fregoso said they are like any other tour or red letter day, but this is geared more toward Spanish speaking students and parents.
“I think there should be more efforts like this because it allows them to speak in the comfort of their native language,” says Fregoso.