Reflections on "Diversity" at College

Every other Sunday night, Colby students gather in Page Commons to listen to one senior, nominated by the student body, to tell his or her story to the Colby community. The bi-weekly event is hosted by the Student Government Association and the Pugh Center. This week, Dylan Alles '16, the Captain of the Cross Country team, shared her story. She talked about growing up in several different countries and how that influenced her experience at Colby, as, in her four years here, her goal has been to connect with and meet as many different people as she could. She ended by encouraging the students gathered to do the same.

Recently, the New York Times published an op-ed titled “The Lie about College Diversity.” Its main points were that colleges are striving to assemble diverse student bodies, and these same colleges promise students academic and social experiences that are tailored to their already-established comfort zones. These include themed living arrangements, clubs, and sports teams, all of which allow students with similar interests and hobbies to cluster together. “A given college may be a heterogeneous archipelago. But most of its students spend the bulk of their time on one of many homogeneous islands,” writes author Frank Bruni, in a sentence that captures the message of the article. Certain colleges are working to change this by holding events that encourage and orchestrate conversations between people of varying backgrounds.

This picture was originally in the article "The Lie About College Diversity" in the New York Times.

As Marina Keegan stsates in her famous essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness, speaking of her own college, “Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something.” However, it is equally important that students at colleges not only feel at home, but also move out of their comfort zones, connecting with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

At Colby, we, too, fall prey to this. There is nothing wrong with feeling comfortable and loved. However, Colby offers many opportunities to move outside of one’s comfort zones. Story Time is a great example of this. For a half-hour every other week, we have the opportunity to hear incredibly interesting stories from people whom we might not typically cross paths with. These stories are thought provoking and inspire connections across the community. It may be small, but it’s a step in the right direction.