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What Diversity Means to Us

Calvin College has adopted the term "diverse" to describe the kind of community we hope to build and maintain on our campus. Our definition of what constitutes diversity may--and probably should--change over time, but when we promote diversity now we are expressing our commitment to an inclusive campus community, enriched by persons of different races, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, economic backgrounds, ages, abilities, sexual orientations, and spiritual values; to ensuring equal opportunity for all who work or study here; to sustaining a climate of civility, mutual respect and tolerance; to promoting the free and open exchange of ideas, including unpopular ideas; to an open and inclusive governing and decision-making process; and to broadly educating students for life in a complex world. Achieving diversity requires much more than the celebration of differences. To be committed to diversity is to recognize:

  • That some social groups in the United States have historically been subjected to systematic and invidious discrimination and continue to experience the negative impact of discrimination. These groups include racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities as well as women and the poor.
  • That some groups in the U.S. have been and continue to be under-represented and under-served in academia, especially at the most prestigious institutions, both among students and in the highest ranks of faculty and staff.
  • That there generally are fewer and less strict social conventions restraining the uncivil, disrespectful, intolerant, and even violent treatment of members of subordinate1 social groups.
  • That foreign cultural groups are especially vulnerable to hostile or romanticized stereotyping, and individuals in the U.S. from those groups experience discrimination based on cultural misconceptions.
  • That compared to middle-class and wealthy individuals, poor people in the U. S. have fewer high-quality educational and employment opportunities and less social respect, and they have fewer opportunities to participate in decision-making bodies and processes.
  • That in light of the increasingly diverse character of American society, as well as the globalization of nearly every facet of our national experience, multicultural and international understanding are essential to every student's successful functioning in his or her future workplaces and in civic life.