Diversity 125 years later

by Kyla Parkins

As Whitworth celebrates its 125-year anniversary, we also celebrate the progress made in diversity on campus. But what is diversity?
“There are many kinds of diversity. We can talk about diversity in terms of culture, race, socio-economics, theology and other factors,” Ron Pyle said. Pyle is a faculty member in communication studies.

Pyle also said that since his arrival at Whitworth in 1988, racial and cultural diversity have increased. According to Whitworth’s website, the 29 different countries represented on campus exemplify this trend.

Kira Austin, faculty in the School of Education department said that there’s more diversity on the Whitworth campus than the surrounding area.

“I’m from the East Coast so I just moved here from a large city. My husband and I were actually shocked by the lack of diversity in the greater Spokane area,” Austin said.

However, she’s seen a different perspective at Whitworth.

“I haven’t had any experience on campus where people don’t understand or accept diversity,” Austin said.

Results of Whitworth’s growing diversity are the clubs and events that celebrate differences in culture, sexual orientation or interests. Clubs span from Na Pu-uwai O Hawai’i to Pirate PRIDE to Chess Club.

“I’ve seen lots of different events, lots of different gatherings where they bring us together and talk about diversity,” said Claire Petersen, program assistant in communication studies. “I’ve been through trainings that make us aware of things we say and do that we aren’t aware of.”

After 125 years, Whitworth is still striving for improvement. That is where the Whitworth 2021 strategic plan comes in.  The fourth goal of Whitworth 2021 is to demonstrate courageous leadership in an increasingly diverse world, according to the Whitworth website.

Whitworth has set up five objectives to accomplish that goal, including establishing a permanent representative council and supporting a commitment to intercultural competency.

“Our community aspires to providing an education that embraces difference and fosters respect that extends beyond the classroom to all university spaces and to local and global communities,” President Beck Taylor said in his President’s Message on Whitworth’s website.

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