Sam Norton

Student Life Editor


Over the past four years, Keene State College as a whole has been making efforts to diversify the college campus, not only by incorporating various aspects of different cultures into the Integrative Studies Program (ISP), but also diversifying the student body. “This started when I first got here about nine years ago, when we hired our first multicultural student coordinator that worked in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs,” Admissions Officer Kevin Justice said.

Since then, Justice has been working hard alongside Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism, Dottie Morris, in order to increase the diversity of the student campus.

In order to accomplish this, Justice conducted a study on where our diverse students were coming from and a study on the New Hampshire schools that had the most diversity. The results of what was once a giant research project is now an approximate increase in diversity by three times what it originally was, Justice said.

Justice said that over the past four years, the multicultural population has increased from a class of 40 to a class of 110.

“We’ve had a very diverse eclectic group here on campus, which has allowed us to expose the campus to those students and have those students get exposure to our campus and our students, which has really upped our popularity amongst the demographics in the state of New Hampshire,” Justice said.

According to the Keene State College Factbook from Fall 2010 to Spring 2011, there are a total of 221 minority students here. This number breaks down into a total of 18 Native American students, 29 African-American students, 37 Asian-Americans, 91 Hispanic- Americans, 1 Pacific Islander, 45 mixed- race students, and 4,907 Caucasian students.

Even though these numbers seem small, students have noticed the difference in race among the student body.

“I definitely feel that there has been a significant increase in diverse students from my freshman year to my junior year,” Brittany Nelson said. Nelson, who is a Korean American adoptee, felt that during her freshman year she was one of four Asian Americans that attended the school.

However, as Nelson continued with her education here at KSC she noticed an increase in her fellow students’ exposure to various cultures and backgrounds.

This exposure to diverse races and origins can be attributed to the changeover in the ISP program. “The changeover to the ISP program has been huge because diversity is a key component in the ISPs. It makes diversity more important to the students who are taking those courses because it is something we actually teach, it’s not something we say we want to do and it’s not something you hear about, it’s something we actually teach. It’s exposure to all cultures,” Justice said.

This change to the ISP program has introduced a change to the faculty. “We’re building a network of professionals on campus, which we haven’t had. I mean our diversity among our professors and our staff has not been great: it’s been very low and by diversifying that population as we are diversifying the student population, it creates a better support community for those students,” Justice said.

“It is a process that we have to go through and that is part of the argument for having the increase in numbers to give people the opportunity to have that exposure-not just exposure, but depth of experience, that can have an impact on us,” Morris said.

However, Nelson believes that professors need to possess that cultural experience in order to teach it. “It is impossible for a professor to teach students about a multicultural perspective when they themselves are Caucasian,” Nelson said.

Justice believes that Keene State College is preparing its students to go out into a global world and in order to do that KSC has to increase domestic and non-domestic diversity, he said.

“We need to bring in as much diversity to campus as we can because that’s what you students are going to face when you leave this place,” Justice said.

In order for students to be prepared for encountering a more global environment outside of the college campus, students need to get out of their comfort zones.

Junior Shallyne Baez believes that doing this will “end the stereotypes and the ignorance that comes from a sheltered environment or mindset.” Baez, who is Hispanic, has been a victim of stereotyping that results from being in a sheltered environment.

Like Baez, Nelson has also been stereotyped for her physical appearance, where students have labeled her with racial slurs.

“That is the result of my fellow students’ lack of diversity before coming to school here and of a conservative American mindset,” Nelson said.

However, Nelson believes that the recent exposure over the past years to various cultures and races has changed this perception.

“It’s definitely exposed people. I hear people all the time saying there were no black kids in my high school, there were no Asian kids in my high school,” Nelson said.

Over the past year, Keene State has been experiencing growth in the diversity rate due to recruitment. Justice said that last year, KSC brought in almost half of the amount of diverse students that the University of New Hampshire did, and we are three times smaller.

However, Justice believes that this number can increase even more. “I’d like to push it higher; I’d like to get to 10%. I think the national average is somewhere around 12% I’d like to get up that high. We have a long way to get there,” he said.

Achieving this statistic will allow the entire student body to educate themselves on the various cultures that compose the country, allowing them to gain additional perspectives that can be applied to their lives outside of college.

“College needs to be a place where you can be yourself and you can also find out about other people’s views, backgrounds, whatever it may be, and I think that is all part of that diversity piece that we need to bring more of to Keene State,” Justice said.


Sam Norton can be contacted at


Share and Enjoy !


Leave a Reply