Walter Lain ’81

Campus diversity means more than the fact that Simpson College admitted George Washington Carver when other colleges and universities wouldn’t. Campus diversity takes multiple forms and evokes consciousness and understanding of others for students, faculty and administrators alike.

The Simpson Experience represents people of different identities and backgrounds who all have contributed to making Simpson what it is. Simpson’s mission statement demands that we acknowledge the need for social justice in our community and in our world.

Following the 1960s, Simpson’s campus climate was influenced by students from diverse ethnic identities and broad geographical backgrounds. The campus experience reflected these differences. For me, as an 18-year-old Simpson student coming from an all black community, my consciousness was raised by becoming aware of other cultures on Simpson’s campus. Some avoided these experiences, but I welcomed them and grew because of the influence of diversity at Simpson during that time.

Over the past few years, we have increased our student population of underrepresented groups. Despite that accomplishment, the goal of creating a diverse campus climate is still important today and must be continued.

Some of the ways we utilize diversity at Simpson today include travel courses, service-learning courses and diverse campus activities. Supporting ethnic identity on campus remains an important goal.

The purpose of the Office of Multicultural and International Affairs is to provide a structure of support to help students grow in their Simpson Experience by offering encouragement and ways of involvement. This leads to increased retention and graduation rates for underrepresented groups and enhances the quality of the college experience for all students.

A current project of Simpson’s multicultural affairs office is to establish mentoring programs for underrepresented students because they can help students develop their own successes. Mentoring programs are an effective way for students to get to know each other and other professionals. These programs allow students to create intellectual challenges and establish channels of frequent and consistent communication.

One of the things Simpson needs to continue to work on is a coordinated student support system for diverse student populations. Continued greatness comes from the ability to understand ourselves in our own identity as well as the contributions of others in our collective diversity.

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