UD’s unique relationship with diversity

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UD’s culture has shifted over my four years as a student. One particular change I’ve observed is  an increase of individuals with different values, beliefs and worldviews, which makes me excited for our community’s future.

As a non-religious student who dislikes groundhogs, my perception has been keen. Even from an action as simple as taking a walk on campus, I notice differences from my time as a freshman. There are more minorities and people of different religious beliefs, as well as avenues for them to put forth their voice. 

As reported by the University News, UD’s class of 2021-22 is our most diverse yet, with 47% being minorities and 25% being first-generation students. Truly, UD’s “bubble” is expanding faster than ever before.

Despite these promising trends, it would be inaccurate to say that UD, in spite of its mission, is a particularly inclusive college. The university has always distinguished itself as a counter-cultural institution with a unique purpose and values. As a result, even before entering the undergraduate program, new students tend to be especially similar when compared to other schools.

This phenomenon can be observed when looking at our school’s marketing. The admissions team often seeks out homeschoolers, attendees of private schools and devout Catholics. 

The result is a student populace that is especially homogeneous. In light of this information, how are UD’s demographics diversifying so quickly?

The primary answer may be our location. Irving has received considerable attention in the past few years relating to its exceptional cultural diversity. It is the second-most culturally diverse city in America, according to a 2020 survey by Finder that utilized the U.S. Census data. 

Although UD’s narrow focus and values promote a homogenized culture, the school’s location in Irving diversifies our community.

A wealth of benefits are afforded by our growth in diversity. The most prominent is inclusivity — the greater the number of non-traditional UD students, the more they can contribute unique ways of thinking and the more comfort they can feel in expressing those views. This ensures non-traditional students will be able to fully participate in the university, from making friendships to engaging in socratic discussions. 

As atypical UD students gain confidence and express themselves, the actions of atypical UD students encourage others who may lack confidence to convey their own unique perspective.

The paramount reason I find myself excited about UD’s increase in diversity is because it will strengthen the university’s core mission to develop independent thinkers. Our curriculum discusses at length the importance of making genuine connections and having genuine conversations  —an admonition that much of the world fails to heed. 

These interactions develop a comprehensive, adaptable worldview. Yet without frequent reflection, taking the time to consider why you hold a particular belief, what was once an independent thought can become little more than a flimsily-held opinion, or worse, an inflexible dogma. As a result, challenging one’s preconceptions is absolutely essential. 

With a more diverse and inclusive student body, students are more frequently exposed to new ideas, perspectives and worldviews from which they can develop their own thoughts on the matter. 

Watching UD’s relationship with diversity improve over my last four years has been a joy, and, as an alumni, I deeply look forward to seeing how our one-of-a-kind university continues to transform.

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