More racial diversity at SHS would enrich experience for all

September 24, 2019 — by Selena Liu

Exposing students to racial diversity will give them a variety of cultural perspectives and an enriched learning experience

As students here, we’ve often heard that we live inside the “Saratoga bubble,” a metaphor for the academically rigorous but also highly sheltered environment of our high school and community. This term, however, extends to other aspects of the school as well, most notably racial and economic diversity. 

Colleges are a prime example of why diversity in a student body is important. Many universities have widely acknowledged the positive social effects of both racial and economic diversity, which is why many aim to admit students with various backgrounds in each freshman class. 

The composition of SHS, while having many minorities, doesn’t reflect the diversity that exists in other communities and the state at large. According to our school profile, 60 percent of the school is Asian American and 25 percent is Caucasian, and less than 1 percent of students require financial aid. 

These limitations in diversity translate to students with limited cultural and economic perspectives, which is detrimental because studies show that students who study in more diverse classrooms reap more benefits both on campus and in the workforce.

“Diversity magnifies the power of a general education by helping to liberate you from the tunnel vision of an ethnocentric and egocentric viewpoint,” said Aaron Thompson, professor of sociology at Eastern Kentucky University in an interview with U.S. News. “By moving beyond yourself, you gain a panoramic perspective of the world around you and a more complete view of your place in it.”

In addition, according to the American Psychological Association, first-year college students exposed to diverse educational settings demonstrated greater gains in leadership skills, psychological well-being, intellectual engagement and intercultural effectiveness in the workplace.

If the SHS better reflected different cultural and economic perspectives in our student body, we would be liberated from such a tunnel vision. For example, if our school had more African-American or Latino students, English classrooms could have a greater variety of unique cultural viewpoints and perspectives during reading discussions or Socratic seminars. Other students, in turn, could gain a greater degree of worldliness and connect across multiple racial groups within the student body. 

Additionally, right now, many current friend groups at Saratoga High are largely based on ethnic divisions. Perhaps we would see more racially diverse friend groups around campus if the school had even more diversity to campus. This translates back to the benefits that Smith and Thompson mentioned — less prejudices within the student body and greater success in the workforce.

Of course, some can argue that cultural diversity  that students reap no actual benefit from talking to members of a racially diverse student body. But multiple studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Institution prove that higher levels of racial diversity make students feel less vulnerable on campus. In addition, students perceive teacher treatment toward students as fairer when there is high racial diversity in classrooms.

Increasing diversity on campus will better prepare students for college and in their future workplaces, where they will have to work in a community of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

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