It is a well-known fact that all universities try to outdo each other to attract more students. For some, location is more important, and for still others, it’s the academics. Increasingly for UMW, it seems that another pull factor is a sense of diversity that makes UMW unique.While diversity adds variety, it must not come at the cost of our academic standards.
Despite this concern, diversity seems to be an increasingly important factor. For prospective students, it is yet another aspect to consider when they choose a college.
For its part, UMW has enthusiastically embraced this new push to diversify and is constantly paving the way for new policies to help change the face of the school to look more mixed.
Many have applauded its efforts as sincere chances to break the old stereotypes and indeed, new experiences do bring about chances to learn and expand academic horizons.
UMW has done a good job at diversifying quickly, but it needs to be aware of what’s changing and how much of its old identity it wants to let go. Not only that, but some of the school policies to diversify have brought mixed reviews.
The class of 2014 has the most ethnically diverse student body in the history of the school, but it also had a lower GPA than previous years.
This makes diversification a somewhat bittersweet process, because it will be hard to maintain a highly admired academic reputation when it appears the standards are eroding.
As if that wasn’t enough, most people still have a picture of UMW as a lily-white school, and this push to look more diverse hasn’t changed that.
Reputations and old views die hard. If UMW wants to make diversity more of a priority, it is going to take more time and more funding: funding that would probably be coming from another part of the school budget.
Such an overhaul of our school identity should lead to some soul-searching before it moves any further. Feedback from students should be assessed and taken into account, for the current population might have some useful insight as to how they view their school that the administration missed. They usually do.
Furthermore, it is possible to maintain a diverse student body while also maintaining a competitive GPA. UMW must not have to sacrifice one to have the other, as diversity usually brings new ideas and intelligence that should manifest itself in a strong GPA or at least a continuation of superior academic standards.
Therefore, if UMW remains focused on improving its academic reputation, it would become a more perfect beacon of liberal arts excellence for many incoming students; something that would inherently bring diversity in itself.