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MC embraces diversity

September 13, 2010

The face of Monmouth College is changing. According to figures released last week, Monmouth’s incoming class includes 99 American minority students. These incoming students raise Monmouth’s minority population to 219, or 16 percent of the total student body.

Peter Pitts, regional director of admissions, credits Monmouth’s attention to the growing charter school movement, as well as programs that encourage high school students to pursue college careers for the boost in diversity, but said it mostly happened by coincidence. “It just sort of happened,” said Pitts. “Diversity happened.”

For minority students already on campus, MC’s increased diversity is a positive thing. “I think it’s cool,” said Cristopher Escobar, president of Raices, Monmouth’s Latino/Hispanic student organization. He said over his time at Monmouth he has seen the minority population double.

“I was very excited to hear about the increasing diversity at MC,” said Samantha Jennings, president of Coalition for Ethnic Awareness, “This really benefits groups like CEA, Raices and Intercultural Life as a whole.”

Senior Alicia Marrero said, “I see more Latinos and that’s exciting; someone I can relate to.”

Ruby Penstil-Bukari, director of intercultural life, said that increasing the diversity on campus is important because it provides a better experience for minority students. Monmouth’s increased diversity gives them a chance to meet more people from similar backgrounds with similar cultures.

However, she pointed out, it is not only minority students that benefit. “It’s good for majority students.  It’s good for minority students.  It’s good all around,” said Penstil-Bukari, “It’s good because each will learn from each other.”

Escobar would like to see Monmouth continue to increase its minority population by including more high schools that have high non-white populations. His high school, which is over 80 percent Hispanic, was not visited by Monmouth recruiters.  “I found out about Monmouth purely by accident,” said Escobar, “A friend who went to a different school told me about it.”

He would also like to see more activities that appeal to minority students and students from the Chicago area, although he does think groups like the Association for Student Activity Programming and Student Organization for Drinking Alternatives have done a good job of organizing more events.

Jennings and Marrero both expressed concern about making sure minority students stay at Monmouth. “A lot of minority students end up leaving,” said Marrero, “They have nothing to relate to, unfortunately.”

Penstil-Bukari said the college is working to retain minority students. “Our job is to make sure we meet the needs of the minority students we bring to campus.”

Raices meets every Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Tartan Room in the Stockdale Center basement. Coalition for Ethnic Awareness meets every other Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Tartan Room. Their next meeting is Sept. 14.

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