Let’s talk about campus diversity

Student campaign competition leads to a serious topic

‘Diversity has proven to keep students successful.’- Fred Edwards Jr.

In an effort to bring more awareness to diversity in the Fargo-Moorhead community and on the North Dakota State campus, students Jack Hastings, Emily Avdem, Brennen Chase, Amy Montebello and Joey Windsperger have created a campaign called “Create the Conversation.”

This takes part in the 2019 PRSSA Bateman Competition, which is used to create case studies for students to partake in and utilize public relation skills to create a campaign.

Through research, they have found that 82.36 percent of NDSU students are white, which creates a stark contrast when compared to California State where only 8.5 percent of students are white. “A campaign like this is not going to change stats like this overnight; it’s going to bring a lot of awareness,” Chase said.

Their campaign sent out a survey among NDSU communication students, where they asked specific questions focusing on the NDSU campus. They asked, “How has diversity affected your campus experience?” and 32 percent of students responded with “a great deal.”

Within the statistics, 86 percent of students responded they believe education about diversity will create a change within the campus, and 64.8 percent said communication professors cover diversity “moderately well” in the classroom.

Students spoke with Stephenson Beck, the communication department chair, who explained it is important to have multiple viewpoints, “But we’re trying to figure out how to truly have those viewpoints represented.”

At a March 4 event, they student group hosted guest motivational speaker and NDSU alumnus Fred Edwards Jr. He spoke about an experience at NDSU, where some students would not sit by him or treat him as though he were a museum because his hair was tall. “Professors would stop the class, walk up to me and touch my hair,” Edwards said.

Edwards said he thinks NDSU needs to create and focus on more of what will keep students around rather than getting them in the door. “I genuinely love NDSU, but to this day, if you go to the NDSU website you will see many students of color; you will get a brochure and see many students of color – and don’t get me wrong, I think NDSU serves students of color well and wants them to succeed,” Edwards said. “I was sold a lie.” Having organizations for people of color to come together like Black Student Association, Black Collegiate Women, etc. is important.

Edwards said he believes it must be honest representation, so that when people visit they know what they are getting into, which will increase the retention rate and allow for them to make that change themselves. He explained how NDSU is only an example and that this is everywhere — that people do not know how to act with people of another culture.

For more information, find Create the Conversation on Instagram and Facebook.

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