The topic of diversity or lack thereof on the Colorado College campus has been a heavily discussed issue for many years. The lack of economic diversity was brought to the forefront this year when the New York Times published an article on economic disparity of students attending elite higher education institutions. According to the New York Times, CC has 24.2 percent of students from the one percent, that is, students whose families earn at least $630,000 annually. In comparison, the percentage of students from the bottom 60 percent is 10.5 percent.
Director of Admission for Outreach and Recruitment, Carlos Jimenez ’04, agrees with the overall point of the article, which is that CC is an institution filled with very privileged students. Jimenez argues that the approach to diversify the student body isn’t as straightforward as it seems. It is not a simple matter of setting a percentage for wanting a certain number of students of color or certain number of students that come from the lower rung of the socio-economic ladder. “Questions of diversity have to be addressed even within students of color,” Jimenez said. He also mentioned that it wouldn’t be very strategic to admit, say, a large number of just Hispanic students just because there is a need to increase the percentage of students of color on campus. The college wants to make sure that there is diversity even amongst students of color, such as economic diversity, students with different perspectives, and international students of color as well. The college’s same drive for diversity is also pursued for the white student population.
CC is on the road to increased diversity on campus, albeit a slow one: “As recently as five years ago, only about 18 percent of the student body identified as coming from an underrepresented background,” according to Jimenez. “Looking back to 2011, 2012, the number has increased by nearly 10 percent.” He also stated that the increase is not to say that CC is now diverse and that the 28 percent is the final goal. Rather, it is to point out that CC is actively taking action to ensure increased diversity.
Part of the reason why the increase is so slow is due to a lack of funds. “One of the main questions is how we can increase financial aid to the point where we can bring in even more underrepresented students. We are currently trying to raise about $90 million to bolster financial aid overall,” said Jimenez. Such efforts, Jimenez points out, depict that the college is cognizant of the problems concerning the issue of diversity on campus and actively taking steps to ensure that the diversity of the student body continues to increase.
But from looking at the potential incoming students for the new school year, which Jimenez said “will be very similar to the last couple of years’ classes,” the path to increased diversity, whether ethnically or economically, will be slow. Based on statements by the administration, it is clear that CC will not change over the course of one school year, in terms of the types of students that attend the institution. However, current long-term plans offer some hope that CC will eventually get to the point where students from all backgrounds feel that there is a space for them.