Opinion: Embrace diversity at Ankeny DMACC

A new school year brings hundreds of new eager faces to our campus, compounding hundreds of different ethnicities and cultures. People of all backgrounds interact with one another as students collaborate and befriend strangers. But with an abundance of different cultures also comes potential for racism and unease towards the minority by the majority. With more and more diverse ethnicities enrolling every year, it is important to keep in mind that everyone deserves to feel welcome no matter their skin color or birthplace, something DMACC seems to implement fairly well.

When students of color were asked whether DMACC is a welcoming community for them, it’s no surprise that the majority stated DMACC is an engaging campus which helps include any race into its programming. With demographics in mind, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that DMACC’s percentages of enrollment by race are roughly 69 percent white and 21 percent combined total of minorities (remaining percentage is listed as “unknown”). Compare that with Iowa State University at roughly 74 percent white and University of Iowa at roughly 71 percent white and it becomes clear that DMACC ranks higher in student diversity.

However, not all students believe DMACC represents true diversity. When students of color were asked if they had felt they were being watched or judged, some stated that just because they were included does not mean they weren’t categorized or discriminated against. Particular moments such as walking down the halls or inclusion in class activities can introduce elements of racism – whether purposely or not – and conflict. Students of color reported that specific glances and looks caucasian students protrude gave an immediate indication of feeling unwelcome. Scowls and raised eyebrows given towards minorities due to their dress style or appearance is a major factor in weakening trust and increasing tension between races, and unfortunately it still appears not just on campus but throughout America.

Even with a seemingly healthy amount of diversity, students of color reported that more representation within campus would be welcome. Many colleges in Iowa include groups for people of color and different ethnicities that help establish healthy community identities for them and truly encourage diversity within the campus. However even with a lower total enrollment count than Iowa State University and University of Iowa, DMACC’s Ankeny campus does not have any official form of group for people of different cultures – yet. On the other hand, DMACC’s Urban campus features all types of minority organizations such as the Black Students United. While there are outstanding events, such as the Multicultural Festivals, which help introduce students to the variety of culture within the community, there have not yet been groups established solely for the minority communities of Ankeny.

It is up to the majority to help make all races and ethnicities feel secure and welcome at our ever-growing campus.

Racism is still very much prevalent within American society, and until the predominantly white population comprehends what it is doing it will never become completely welcoming.

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