This report in the Chronicle of Higher Education http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/08/01/how-to-fight-growing-economic-and-racial-segregation-in-higher-ed/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en is very troubling to me.
During the recession, I’ve had increasing concerns about the longstanding issue of unequal access to international educational experiences on campuses. We used to refer to this as a need to focus on “under-represented” populations but this often was a bit vague: men are in this category, but, most of the time we were really talking about race and not gender equality. And now this report focuses on an even more pernicious problem: the lack of access of poor students to a college education. The report states:
“Within university communities, there are organized constituencies for recruited athletes, the children of alumni, and underrepresented minority students, but by and large there are no such groups for poor and working-class students. Because racial and ethnic diversity is more visible than socioeconomic diversity, colleges hold themselves to a higher standard in ensuring diversity by race. And because doing something about socioeconomic diversity is more expensive than recruiting upper-middle-class students of color, universities shy away from it.”
To the point: if we cannot and do not diversify our campuses in terms of socio-economic “diversity” than, de facto, we’ll never be able to provide equal opportunity in our society to the type of global education required of all students to become competitive in the global economy when they graduate. We will leave behind a swath of our young citizens and widen the gap between those who both get to college and reap the rewards of access to international experiences and those who don’t find their way to better paying jobs and career success beyond the limits of their socio-economic class in American society.