Diversity increases at Marquette

Efforts by various Marquette offices and task-groups to racially and ethnically diversify Marquette’s student body have yielded results in the incoming freshman class, of which non-white students make up more than 20 percent.

According to Marquette-conducted surveys, this year’s percentage is the highest in the past five years.

“Bringing students of color to campus contributes to the overall multicultural environment of our campus community,” said Jana Thompson, an admissions counselor, in an e-mail on behalf of the Multicultural Team in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, who worked jointly in providing a statement.

According to the annual Common Data Set survey, non-white students accounted for 18 percent of last year’s freshman class at Marquette.

However, even though Marquette is steadily becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, the university still falls short of comparable schools according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a survey system that collects data from some 6,700 institutions nationwide.

The most recent IPEDS report, done for the 2008-’09 academic year, compiled data from 11 comparable universities including Loyola University Chicago, St. Louis University and Catholic University of America.

The median percentage of non-white students enrolled in the comparison group was higher than Marquette, with Marquette’s 81 percent of white students topping the group’s average of 61 percent.

However, the results do not worry the Multicultural Team.

“In the future, we plan to continue partnering with even more community-based organizations and current Marquette students and student organizations,” the Multicultural Team statement said.

The group saw improved recruitment methods and communication with students as integral factors in raising the student of color percentage, as well as diversity awareness.

“We recognize that students come from all backgrounds at Marquette and we intend to continue recruiting all students equally,” the Multicultural Team statement said. “We partner with specific student organizations to increase awareness of opportunities available to incoming students to campus.”

The Multicultural Team also said improved communication and relations with students are key in establishing programs and contact with non-white students, especially at the local level.

“Our current Marquette students have assisted us by writing letters and making phone calls to prospective students in an effort to ease the transition from high school to college,” the Multicultural Team statement said. “We have increased our visibility in the Milwaukee Public Schools and local community-based organizations that have a college-bound focus to promote college readiness as well at Marquette.”

Stephanie Quade, the dean of students, also stressed the importance of improving Marquette’s diversity.

“I have seen many changes on the campus in terms of our approaches to and understanding of diversity,” Quade said. “The dialogue among faculty and students has been amazing.”

Diversity Advocates, a program where faculty and staff work as advisers and mentors to multicultural students, was one of the programs Quade said has played an important part of improving diversity.

The increased diversity on campus has some students taking notice.

“It’s always refreshing seeing a more and more diverse campus,” said Michael Aleshire, a junior in the College of Business Administration. “Improving diversity is something that I see Marquette working hard at.”

But others believe there is more work to be done.

“It’s nice to see improving numbers,” said Nicholas Schad, a junior in the College of Business Administration. “But there is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of diversity on campus.”