Should Kaler prioritize diversity?

If diversity programs are designed poorly, they could divide students.

Leah Lancaster

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs new president, Eric Kaler, has promised to make diversity on campus one of his top priorities. In order to attain more minority students, he will implement the Educational Opportunity Program, which will take students of color from low-income families and enable them to succeed via tutoring, mentorship and other specialized services.

I am sure that this program, as well as an increase in minority students at the University will have some positive results, such as a higher graduation rate among students of color and a more varied student body (the University is currently 75 percent Caucasian.) It is the possible negative results, however, that I do not feel are being addressed.

As a minority student who has participated in culture clubs and multicultural celebrations at the University, I have come to terms with the fact that diversity and division tend to go hand in hand.

Implementing a program that focuses primarily on minorities could create a bigger separation between Caucasian and ethnic students than there already is. This gap is due to cultural, financial and language differences that will only be further magnified by a program that distinguishes specific minorities from the rest of the student body.

Why not create a program that helps all low-income students promote economic diversity rather than only programs to help racial minorities? Why not create a program that benefits all of the University students that Kaler has been appointed to lead?

Diversity is not something I am opposed to, but it should be used as a tool to expose students to different cultures and backgrounds, not provide shelter from doing so. I hope KalerâÄôs version of diversity does not solely involve equalizing the slices of the demographic pie, when it should instead focus on how each of these slices interact and coexist.