If you were to look at the percentage of underrepresented students at Holy Cross and then compare it to other colleges’ numbers, you’re not going to find much of a difference. But just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you also can’t gauge a college’s multicultural atmosphere by percentages alone. That only gives you one part of the bigger picture. After this past Perspectives Multicultural Overnight Program, which is under my umbrella of office responsibilities, I have been thinking a lot about diversity and multiculturalism, especially as it pertains to Holy Cross. After having attended another wonderful liberal arts institution and worked at a different one in admissions prior to my current gig, I have the luxury of observing the multicultural atmosphere at two other liberal arts colleges. What in my mind is unique about Holy Cross is the support systems that are in place to one support students who don’t feel represented by the majority and two to increase awareness of other cultures and identities on campus.
First, there is a consortium of Multicultural Student Organizations (MSO’s) that is comprised of about a dozen student organizations classified as multicultural in nature and represent identities ranging from Asian to LGBTQ to international students. Second, there is a group of multicultural peer educators (MPE’s) who work with various groups on campus from students to staff to educate them about various issues of acceptance and diversity and do a wonderful job. It’s programs like these that strengthen diversity on college campuses and not the number of underrepresented students present. But more importantly it is the people who are behind the programs who make multicultural life at Holy Cross what it is. I’ve had the opportunity to work one-on-one with many of the wonderful people who are involved with multicultural affairs and they are some of the most dedicated, supportive and innovative individuals I’ve met. As a former underrepresented student, I find myself often impressed and envious of the kind of support that students at Holy Cross receive to help them acclimate to life on the hill.
You might be asking why the people at Holy Cross are different and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that this is a Jesuit institution that very much emphasizes social justice and service. There is a different kind of accountability that we have to each other as members of this community because of this identity that doesn’t exist at other campuses. It goes beyond just being civilized but takes it many steps beyond to another level of kindness and caring between community members that I don’t find at other colleges, at least not the ones I’m familiar with. So for those of you who are very much concerned about multiculturalism at Holy Cross or at any other institution, I encourage you to do some digging into the community beyond the percentages of underrepresented students. High percentages don’t mean a thing if there aren’t systems in place to cultivate intercultural learning and provide support for the underrepresented students. And if you have questions about multiculturalism at Holy Cross, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.
Assistant Director of Admissions
Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment