Despite minority increase, diversity still a concern

Gwendolyn Bates, the associate vice president of diversity and inclusion, said diversity is still a problem at Emerson College, despite a recent a spike in  minority students.

Speaking at a Martin Luther King, Jr. luncheon last Thursday, Bates said the number of minority students at the college is a poor reflection of diversity in the academic world.

“We have to prepare students to be in a world that’s going to have a large percentage of diverse people,” she said in an interview.

Tikesha Morgan, director of multicultural student affairs, said the luncheon celebrated the civil rights leader’s birthday and drew attention to the college’s continued effort to diversify its students and faculty.

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Morgan said the population of minority students has increased significantly in recent years. The number of minority applicants surged 21 percent in 2010, Vice President of Enrollment MJ Knoll-Finn told the Boston Globe.

But Morgan and Bates both said the college has a long way to go.

“This isn’t what the world looks like,” Morgan, said of the statistics. “Every class should be diverse.”

Bates said the Beard Room was packed with about 75 people during her luncheon speech.

“I hope events like these encourage people to call others’ out on their [derogatory] remarks,” she said. “We need diversity, but even more, we need inclusion.”

Morgan, who advises Emerson’s cultural groups, said she hopes student diversity continues to increase.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “But we’ve got to get started.”