DiversiFive Files: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Student Populations

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Don Koch, International Vice President for Division 1.

There are many different populations in our colleges. Understanding their needs — and, in some cases, lack of opportunities — is important if you want to increase access and opportunity for each group on your campus.

The PTK chapter at Frederick Community College in Maryland had a unique approach to illustrating this with its College Project. The Alpha Delta Sigma Chapter created a video, entitled “I am FCC,” to showcase how a group of diverse students would look at the end of their college journey. This was a great example of Stephen Covey’s phrase, “To begin with the end in mind.”

Students of all ages and nationalities repeated the phrase, “I am FCC.” The students in the video wore attire indicative of the career they were seeking.

We can provide equity to students by first identifying their needs. This will enable them to leave college with the goal they had when they started their journey.

Awareness of more diverse student needs will increase inclusiveness in our colleges. How do you do this? To meet the needs and the challenges more diverse student populations face, we will first have to identify the demographics. Some examples of groups of students that face extra challenges are:

  • Veterans
  • Non-Traditional and Aged Students
  • Disabled Students
  • International Students
  • Online Students

The Alpha Eta Kappa Chapter of Midlands Technical College in South Carolina may have touched on a solution. For its College Project, the chapter created an ongoing diversity and inclusion committee; its original focus was on veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, international students, and students with disabilities.

They recognized the importance of ongoing education and training about respecting others’ differences. This chapter also created a college-wide awareness piece about diversity. The college’s executive council is considering an ongoing diversity committee. This is proof of this chapter’s accomplishments and has the makings for continued growth.

It is important for us to understand diversity and inclusion on campus. We should also be aware of our differences and be empathetic to the challenges others face. We will learn more about ourselves as we learn about others.

My fellow International Officers and I challenge you to seek out students that are unlike yourself and discuss your differences. Be aware of their challenges, and see their lives from a different perspective.

We look forward to seeing and hearing from you at the next Synergy Session on Tuesday, October 3, at 4 p.m. CT. Let’s discuss some of the diverse groups and what we can do to promote diversity and increase inclusion. This could be an opportunity to increase self-awareness and promote creative thinking.

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