For Students to Feel Welcome at College, PWIs Need More DEI efforts—Not Less
As the Director of Education Innovation and Research and professor at Howard University, I understand the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in higher education. The harsh reality is that students of color often encounter discrimination, isolation, and hostility at predominately White institutions (PWIs). In a recent survey, more than 1 in 5 Black college students feel discriminated against in school — and at the least diverse colleges, 1 in 4 report feel psychologically or physically unsafe. As such, PWIs need to take concrete actions to improve their campus racial climate and foster a sense of belonging for all students.
Regardless of the ban on affirmative action in college admissions, I believe that DEI efforts are not only legally permissible, but also morally imperative for higher education. As an activist and educator, I have witnessed the transformative power of diversity in the classroom, where students from different backgrounds and perspectives can learn from each other, challenge each other, and grow together. Diversity also enriches the academic environment, where faculty of color can bring their expertise, insights, and innovations to advance knowledge and solve problems. Currently, just 6% of full-time faculty are Black, and 5% are Latino.
However, diversity alone is not enough. We also need equity and inclusion, which means ensuring that students and faculty of color have access to the same opportunities, resources, and support as their White counterparts. We need to address the systemic barriers and biases that prevent students and faculty of color from achieving their full potential. We need to create a culture of respect and appreciation for difference, where students and faculty of color feel valued, welcomed, and empowered.
EdTrust’s digital report on campus racial climate provides compelling evidence and recommendations for how colleges and universities can achieve these goals. I urge all higher education leaders to read the report and take action to make their campuses more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. By doing so, they will not only benefit their students and faculty of color, but also enhance the quality and impact of their institutions.