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The Blue & Gray Press | May 22, 2018

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Opposing Viewpoints: In Push For Higher Diversity, Risk of Lowering Standards

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.

Comments

  1. Ben

    A few things:

    1. “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.”–Are you referring to their GPA during their first year of college? or their incoming high school GPA? This is important for a number of reasons.

    2. “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.”–Why is GPA the only measure of success you seem to be willing to accept? Especially considering that our nation’s educational system is geared towards the success of its white students.

    3. The university has admitted more students in the past few years in an attempt to expand the school. I would agree that in order to do so they changed their standards of what they would accept. But are you trying to connect only the minority students to the lowered GPA? Please explain, because that doesn’t sound right.

  2. Timmy

    Ben if you don’t mind could you clarify for me what you mean by “Especially considering that our nation’s educational system is geared towards the success of its white students.”

    I agree with you in the I do not believe that minority students are to blame for a lower GPA average, but I am having trouble agreeing with the previous statement.

  3. JJ

    It is amazing the diversity always becomes equated with race, considering the fact that it means so many other things: race, gender,handicapped, sexual orientation, religion
    more than anything there should be issue with women being overrepresented at the college and less about misguided and fact less claims about minority groups. If proper research was done, one would find that the same equal number of students of all races are accepted to colleges with low or above average GPAs.
    And mostly everyone- all races- do poorly at some point during their college years- rather they entered with a high GPA or not.
    UMW is not Harvard, Yale or the rest of the IVY league schools- even they have made it so everyone has a fair chance of getting an education.
    Is it not the objective of college to educate any mind that wants to learn? Education is suppose to be extended to everyone, not just one group.
    this sounds to much like the racist rhetoric in Free lance star.

    I have not taking any classes with anyone who could be a noble bell peace prize winner yet.
    GPA should not be the main objective or focus of any school. A high GPA does not determine the intellectual capacity of a student; it only proves that some know how to take test better. Essay exams are subjective and sometimes based on what professors constitute as good writing. So grades based on essay exams do not determine anything either.

  4. Tim

    JJ you are right that GPA should not be the only thing that people look for, but I think that it should be a main one. GPA does not measure test skills however, that would be the SAT. GPA measures how well a student does across the spectrum of all their classes. This article is focusing on incoming Freshmen so focusing on their High School career where for the most part grades did not come only from tests and essays but participation and homework counted towards a larger percentage of the grade.

    The way I see it race should not be a such a large concern at college campuses. When you look at the reputation of UMW many people still equate it with a female college. Because people still see it as female chances are more women will apply here giving us a female majority. We need to look at the number of applications that are sent in and accept them for merit alone.