College minds shaped by diversity

In order to cultivate different attitudes about global and community matters, would you rather accept headlines read off of Facebook, and other social media outlets at face value, build a bordering wall or befriend and converse with people of different regions, religions, and race? 

If you chose the first option, then your brushing up on accredited news sources is the quick-fix solution. If you chose option two, it’s in the works and you can cautiously rejoice with the other 48.89 percent of the country centered primarily in the mideast and midwest. But if you eagerly chose the third option, you’re taking vital steps in breaking stigmas and stereotypes. And what a better place to start than your college campus. 

An ocean of diverse organisms, college campuses can attract students of unique backgrounds and heritages. It’s the collection of many different cultures that allows for the collaboration of young intellects.

“Diversity, anywhere, is extremely beneficial,” said sophomore and studio art major Alicia Zajaczkowski. “If someone gets used to the same culture throughout their environment, it [could make them] less receptive to outsiders, people who are different.”

Differences between people and respect synonymously intertwine and affect the openness of the campus’ students. According to a Gallup study, graduates within the last decade were questioned about their university’s acceptance of differences. The study concluded people who regularly mingled or interacted with people from different backgrounds were more likely to believe their campus was a safe spaceto study for both LGBTQ students and racial or ethnic minorities.

Modeling this, Sonoma State University’s campus houses various clubs and organizations for its flexible students. The HUB, which stands for honoring, uniting, and building the future, engages in celebrating the identities, perspectives, bodies, emotions, lineages and strengths of the student body by holding discussion groups, mixers and other events. The integral center for student diversity and creativity resides on the second floor of Student Center.

“I believe our campus has become much more diverse in the three short years that I’ve been here,” said junior and geography major Wyatt Richard.

Holding some truth, the demographics for Asians, other Latinos, Mexican-Americans and non-resident aliens expanded, with Mexican-Americans holding the largest increase in enrollment.

According to the 2015 and 2016 CSU Statistics Report, the Mexican-American student body made a 1.6 percent increase from 1,939 to 2,071; while other students who identify as Latino made a 0.4 percent increase by adding 30 students to the previous 657 enrolled last fall.

The slippery slope has carried the minority groups further down as the demographics for African-Americans, Blacks and Native Americans decreased. The African-American enrollment dropped by seven students to 199, while nine less Native American students enrolled, dropping to 38. 

Due to the fact that 47.1 percent of Sonoma State students identify as White, a drop in enrollment is easy to go unnoticed. However statistically, enrollment for Whites dropped 186 spots to 4,393.

“Sonoma State isn’t very diverse. I’ve noticed, up here, there are a lot of white people, not a lot of different cultures,” said Zajaczkowski. “Maybe it’s something about Northern California.” 

Growing up in a military household, Zajaczkowski said that moving exposed her to an array of people from each side of the nation, allowing her to listen and understand the livelihoods of individuals you might never pass in Sonoma County.

Among gender, sexual orientation, religion and socioeconomic backgrounds the list concerning diversity is endless. The conversations between people who hold differing ideas and stances in these categories, on opposite ends of the spectrum, contribute to the growing of analytical and social skills. According to the same Gallup study, those skills are pivotal to strengthening a greater dedication to democratic values.