I admit that when I began at TCU, I questioned the presence of a diverse community. That word — diversity — gets thrown around a little too emptily, and the promise of its existence typically falls short of expectations.
So what exactly does diversity mean for me? Having a minority of several minorities is not exactly what I have in mind. My rough definition of a diverse community is one where there is such a mixture of individuals that it is difficult to describe a stereotypical member.
This university, like many others, has a stereotypical student. I am sure many schools do. But I also know that the greatest, most successful Tier-One institutions of higher education in this country do not. Just compare our student body composition statistics. To know how to function in a global community, one must learn in a global community.
That being said, I actually did meet a largely varying mixture of individuals while at TCU. The School of Music hosts students from around the globe. I have met peers from Russia, Chile, Hungary and China, just to name a few.
By joining Best Buddies, I came to know and to bond with intellectually and developmentally disabled members of the community, who are a typically overlooked minority. I developed friendships through programs such as the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters with children who come from rougher backgrounds than most TCU students do, backgrounds that lack parents, role models and secure homes.
Working at a nearby hospital downtown, I was able to interact with the wide ranging inner-city population of Fort Worth. My point is that I was able to find a diverse community to significantly increase my opportunities for life-changing and educational experiences while studying at Texas Christian University.
What is problematic here, though, is that I had to find this community. There is a great wealth of knowledge in diversity; it is a key teaching and a learning tool. Exploring alternate opinions and approaches in all areas, including politics, religion and social issues, allows students to expand and modify their views while developing sensibility as a member of a mixed society. The university provides some resources to seek varied interactions and is definitely taking steps in the right direction by promoting minority organizations on campus.
From what I have seen, the student body at TCU is generally open minded and would appreciate such opportunities. So why is it that I get the feeling most TCU students do not take advantage of what our school has to offer?
Well, it brings me back to my point about the visibility of diversity on campus: it’s here, but you have to be looking for it. In addition, the effort to promote minority groups may not be doing enough in terms of integrating them into the student body.
I have loved my time at this university where I have acquired a world-class education facilitated by excellent professors and staff. I feel prepared to take on the challenges I have ahead of me and have been fortunate enough to have developed true, lifelong friendships. But I would love to see TCU take steps toward a more varied population on campus.
This would entail a number of things, including attracting more international students, minorities and backgrounds. In the 2011 cycle, TCU received almost 19,000 applications for approximately 1,800 spots.
First of all — well done, TCU. Second, what an opportunity that is for our school to take a step up toward a more wide ranging student body. The influential American poet and writer Walt Whitman once said, “This is not a nation but a teeming nation of nations.”
To all Texas Christian University alumni, current students, future students, faculty and staff, godspeed in all of your well-intentioned endeavors.
Numan Khan is a senior biology major from North Richland Hills.