Skip to comments.St. Anselm College seeks more diversity [Barf Alert]
Posted on 11/12/2008 2:14:39 AM PST by cmj328
GOFFSTOWN St. Anselm College is seeking to double the enrollment of Hispanics, African-Americans, and other minorities and create a campus environment that welcomes students of other Christian denominations, religions, and different sexual orientations.
"We need to be a place where everyone feels at home, not just some people," said the Rev. Jonathan DeFelice, president of the college. "What are the things we do that are unattractive and therefore keeping some people away? We're asking that question ourselves. Are we doing enough so that people feel comfortable and at home here?"
Denise Askin, a retired English professor, was hired this year as the assistant to the president for inclusiveness. The effort to be more inclusive of various minorities has also affected course offerings, student organizations, admissions, and faculty hiring.
The college recently created faculty positions for experts in African history, African-American and post-colonial literature, Chinese language, and Asian religions. This semester, it is offering about a dozen "inclusive" courses on those topics and others, such as liberation theology and women and crime, according to its Web site.
Some students and alums say the college is at risk of compromising its identity as a liberal arts Catholic college in the Benedictine tradition.
"It could end up being like in the name of inclusiveness the college will have to accept certain things that are contrary to the Catholic identity," said Matthew Pietropaoli, a 2005 graduate. "On the face of it, having a more diverse student body is a good idea. That has to be juxtaposed with a firm understanding of their Catholic identity."
College administrators and professors say the program is rooted in Catholic and Benedictine teachings on treating others with the same respect and dignity that they would Jesus Christ.
"St. Anselm was founded to bring together the warring factions of the Canadian French and Irish," Askin said. "It is part of our tradition, not a departure from it."
A major goal since 2005 has been doubling the enrollment of ethnic and racial minorities, which today constitute just 4.3 percent of the student body. But 5 percent of incoming freshmen this year had minority backgrounds, an increase of 2 to 3 percent over the past decade, according to Askin.
"We don't have quotas. We have aspirations," she said. "We envision ourselves, if we grow, not larger but if we grow in inclusiveness, if we have an environment on this campus that makes this a first choice for minority students, then we will have a higher percentage."
Regina Federico, a sophomore from Massachusetts, said racial or ethnic background should not be a factor in admissions.
"I just think that no matter what school it is, that people who deserve to get into school should be allowed in," Federico said.
Alyssa McClure, a 2008 graduate, said she did not like the inclusiveness program because she thinks it is similar to affirmative action.
"I don't see the point in having a program designed to bring minorities in," McClure said. "We are the second most white state in the nation."
Instead, she thought the college should focus on "academics and Catholic identity."
Matt St. John, a senior from Massachusetts, supports the initiative to the extent that it fosters respect and hospitality toward everyone on campus. "But, respecting everyone does not and cannot mean abandoning or watering down your beliefs so that everything is right and nothing is wrong, so that you can avoid offending anyone," he said, adding that he trusted the college would remain vigilant in upholding its identity.
Askin said the college would not be "watering down" its traditions, nor does it face a choice between maintaining its traditions and being more inclusive.
Diversity is a matter of academics as well, according to philosophy professor Kevin Staley. He said a more diverse student body engenders "cross-cultural understanding."
Pablo Garcia, an assistant professor for Spanish and member of a college advisory council on inclusiveness, agreed. "I believe it is important because as (a) higher education institution in the 21st century it is our job to prepare our students to be world-savvy, to broaden their perspective, in part by providing an environment which should include all manners of diversity."
St. Anselm College today has an enrollment of 1,879 students. Tuition is $28,440, but once room, board, and mandatory fees are tallied, the actual cost for a residential student is $40,400, according to Barbara LeBlanc, a spokesman for the college.
Nancy Griffin, the dean of admission, said the college aims to gain more minority applicants by reaching out to urban high schools in cities such as Manchester and Nashua. St. Anselm also has sought a statewide grant to fund workshops on how to fill out applications and financial aid forms that would be helpful for minority students.
On campus, the increasing diversity is apparent in organizations such as the Black Student Coalition and the Muslim Students Association, which have formed within the last five years, according to LeBlanc.
Inclusiveness was in the spotlight this fall when the college received the results of a 2007 survey of attitudes toward race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and "other forms of difference" among students, faculty, and staff.
Askin said the survey -- which is not a public document -- showed the campus has a "good climate for diversity" but there is still room for improvement. Non-Catholic students, for example, indicated that they felt respected but not as well understood, she said.
Union Leader Editorial:
St. Anselm gets diverse: A college gone adrift
St. Anselm College in Goffstown is falling for the diversity myth, which is that the physical and behavioral attributes of students and faculty are the measure by which colleges and universities can be judged diverse.
The small, Roman Catholic college (student body, 1,879) has hired a new "assistant to the president for inclusiveness." It is pushing a new "inclusiveness" initiative that includes hiring more minorities as faculty and staff members and bringing in more minority students. The obvious question is: Why?
St. Anselm officials say that ethnic and racial minorities make up 4.3 percent of the student body and 5 percent of the freshman class. That's actually higher than the percentage in the New Hampshire population as a whole. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, minorities make up only 4 percent of the New Hampshire population.
This pursuit of diversity is supposed to enhance the learning environment on campus. But history has shown us that it is predominantly used as a tool of indoctrination, not education. Extensive experience on Southern campuses has shown that, in fact, minority students rarely socialize with white students, and vice versa. The excuse that it is a valuable learning tool is not borne out by experience. But colleges still pursue "diversity" because of the immense political pressure to do so.
We have seen signs in recent years that St. Anselm is losing its moorings. It is a Benedictine liberal arts school. That is its mission, its reason for being. But lately it is acting more and more like a secular college pursuing the same socially liberal policies as every other secular college.
Its new diversity push is the latest sign (following its move to co-ed dormitories last year) that St. Anselm is changing in ways that, ironically, will mean fewer choices for area high school graduates.
St. Anselm's pursuit of on-campus diversity as marked by physical and behavioral attributes -- race, ethnicity, sexuality -- will result in less diversity from college to college in New Hampshire. St. Anselm has always offered something different from the modern, socially liberal university experience available nearly everywhere else. It has offered its students the chance to attend college in an environment in which Roman Catholic teachings, not the dominant culture, hold sway, and in which thought is valued more highly than skin color.
But if St. Anselm is going to marginalize white and straight students and ignore Catholic doctrine in pursuit of the secular goal of "inclusiveness," it will remove itself from the short list of institutions of higher learning that provide refuge from the anything-goes, accept-all-lifestyles attitude that dominates modern college campuses.
Diversity in higher education ought to mean that colleges, such as St. Anselm, can remain true to their missions and be a beacon for students who want a college that offers a more traditional educational environment and not an indoctrination in modern liberal social theory.
Were it not for the cartelization of the university system, this type of thing would hardly go on. They’d be centers of vocational training and little more.
Here is the answer on how to get more diversity. Just lower your standards more. Diversity will come soon enough and oh, by the way, be ready to give in to every demand diverse students bring with them. It would be racist not to.
“So when I needed a neurosurgeon to operate on my brain tumor I said to my wife, “Let’s find a person of color or disability or altered sexual identity to operate rather than trying to find the best neurosurgeon in the world based on his knowledge and experience. What I really need now that I’m facing a life-threatening illness is a more DIVERSE doctor............” Duh?
“Alyssa McClure, a 2008 graduate, said she did not like the inclusiveness program because she thinks it is similar to affirmative action.
“I don’t see the point in having a program designed to bring minorities in,” McClure said. “We are the second most white state in the nation.”
Instead, she thought the college should focus on “academics and Catholic identity.”
I have a suggestion. Maybe the administration of St. Anselm’s should stop chasing its tail and beating its breast to be recognized as a school where diversity rules and just go back to its original mission as a Roman Catholic college. If St. Anselm’s can’t do this it should close. This student has hit the nail on the head, they should listen to her.
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