Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Diversity needs more effort made by domestic students

Last Friday night, my club VSA (Vietnamese Student Association) hosted a cultural event at Westie lounge.
We made traditional Vietnamese desserts and sold them to participants and visitors.
We organized this event because we wanted to bring a new cultural perspective to students through sweets (and also because student organizations are required to organize at least one event per term).
I was one of the exec board members, and also one of the ticket sellers at the Gerber Center.
We sold many more than we had expected, so the turnouts were also larger than our expectations.
About 50 people participated in our event, which is an encouraging sign for all of us at VSA.
However, one thing struck me at the event and inspired me to write this column.
I noticed that the vast majority of the attendants were international students and non-white students.
There were definitely some domestic students in the mix, but there were only a handful of them.
One of the factors that influenced me to choose Augustana for my freshman year was the diversity of the student body.
Diversity on campus was one of my most important criteria when choosing college because as an international student, it is my concern to feel included in school activities.
Don’t get me wrong, Augustana students are super friendly and welcoming.
Domestic students are really encouraging international students to join in the activities that they have.
However, they do not seem very excited to take part in international student held events.
As a consequence, there is still a dividing line between domestic students, international and multicultural students.
It inhibits the unity and inclusion of students from different backgrounds.
When I was selling tickets for VSA, I realized that most of people who are interested in attending were international and multicultural students.
We tried to invite domestic students and make them interested in the event, but they did not seem to be remotely intrigued.
While it may have been our fault that we failed to capture their attention, it may have also been the fact that they were not interested in attending cultural events with other international students.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed, as I had hoped that the school environment would be more inclusive and domestic students would be more immersed in foreign cultural activities.
Now, after spending a year at Augustana. I came to the conclusion that the school’s cultural environment is still segregated between domestic students and international students.
There were some domestic students who were affiliated with international activities and vice versa, but for the most part, each group of students was still socializing within themselves.
This is seen most clearly in the dining hall, where the domestic students sit in one group, and international and multicultural students sit in another.
I sincerely hope that the school environment would become more diverse and the distinct line between domestic and international students would be blurred.
In order for this to happen, efforts are required from both sides.

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Diversity needs more effort made by domestic students