Thirty-five percent of college students from Eastern Kentucky come from backgrounds where there’s little diversity of race, religion, and culture. At a diversity breakfast Wednesday, Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock asked those students a blunt question. “If you’re not exposed to people who look different from you, have a faith that is different from yours, might have sexual orientation than you do, have different political thought than you do, how are you going to be able to think critically if everybody you meet looks like you, thinks like you and believes like you?”, asked Whitlock.
The EKU president said exposure to a diverse set of people is not only good for students, but for the region’s entire population.
“If we don’t have the right kind of diverse atmosphere on this campus we’re not going to serve them well educationally. We’re not going to be able to serve that region unless we bring a diverse, global focus to that region”, said Whitlock.
Whitlock said cultivating diversity at EKU is “not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”
EKU has long worked to make the Richmond campus a more welcoming place for people from a variety of races, cultures, and religions. Now, Eastern has developed a plan that calls for a more diverse workforce and student body, as well as a more welcoming campus climate. Associate Provost for Diversity Planning Sandra Moore looks forward to the system-wide changes.
“I would say the majority of our faculty, students embrace diversity. But then you have a few folks who either because they don’t understand what the definition is. Or there’s a fear they’re being left out”, said Moore.
Moore says upcoming campus wide seminars will address those questions and fears. The state Council on Postsecondary Education requires every public university in Kentucky to submit a diversity plan that reflects each school’s demographic makeup.