Editorial Board

Diversity isn’t about numbers. It’s about improving the student experience.

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Diversity shouldn't just be a buzzword.

A new generation of students will walk to class Monday morning as the newest faces of Syracuse University. Twenty-six percent of SU’s freshmen are students of color, marking an increase from last year’s 24 percent. But that slight growth means nothing if the college experience for students of color hasn’t changed.

In 2014, SU cut funding for POSSE scholarships that traditionally benefitted students of color. This decision, piled onto other diversity grievances, sparked a Diversity and Transparency rally and THE General Body’s 18-day sit-in.

This year’s senior class is the last one to have seen THE General Body protest — the most recent major upheaval over race and diversity on campus, among other student life grievances. Demographics have bounced around since then, but tangible improvements to the student experience are far more important than statistics.

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Ali Harford | Senior Design Editor

Since THE General Body, we’ve seen the creation of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion, which produced a list of recommendations for the university. As of May, nine of those 18 recommendations have been completed.

These are the accomplishments and goals the SU community should focus on — not a negligible change in numbers. And these recommendations and accomplishments should continue to shape SU’s future diversity initiatives. In this way, improving diversity starts when university administrators actually listen to students, as they’ve already started to do under the workgroup’s recommendations.

But with more than 15,000 students, SU should consider that university-wide initiatives may not be the best way to improve diversity efforts. The faces of classrooms in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications don’t look like those in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, so it may be better to tackle diversity on a school-by-school basis.

SU should focus on tangible improvements to diversity, not quotas to be filled. It’s one thing to have a diverse student population — SU could always be more diverse, as this year’s incoming student demographics show. But it’s more important to have an inclusive campus community that supports and retains students of color.

Diversity isn’t just a buzzword, and it isn’t just a numbers game. It’s an ever-present goal.

The Daily Orange Editorial Board serves as the voice of the organization and aims to contribute the perspectives of students to discussions that concern Syracuse University and the greater Syracuse community. The editorial board’s stances are determined by a majority of its members. You can read more about the editorial board here.

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