For students applying to Georgetown’s host of exclusive student groups, surmounting the extensive applications and multiple rounds of interviews is hard enough. For students of color, this proves even harder.
In a viewpoint for The Hoya published last Friday [“Correcting GUASFCU’s Closed Culture,” The Hoya, March 24, 2017, A3], Cole Brown, a member of Georgetown University’s Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union’s Diversity and Inclusion committee, called for his organization to accept a greater proportion of students of color. According to Brown, of the 64 nonwhite applicants to GUASFCU this semester, only three were accepted at a rate of 4.7 percent, compared with the 20 percent acceptance rate of their white counterparts.
Yet in addition to striving for diversity of admission, student organizations ought to strive for diversity of application. It is not enough for admissions boards and personnel managers to disproportionately admit nonwhite applicants to balance otherwise homogeneous student groups. These clubs should work to foster a culture that actually appeals to nonwhite students and entices those students of color to apply at similar rates to their white peers.
In the past several years, these groups have made a conscious effort to diversify their ranks and ensure that they do not become social havens solely for white students. The Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society overhauled its application process, The Corp launched a diversity working group and GUASFCU created an auxiliary committee focused on inclusion. Both Blue and Gray and The Corp saw more diverse hiring classes as a result of these new policies and had historically high number of nonwhite students accepted into their ranks in the past year.
While these measures are to be applauded, they do not address the fact that students of color may be deterred from applying in the first place.
In the most recent admission cycle, Blue and Gray accepted a commendably diverse group into its class of 32 students. However, the applicants were starkly less diverse than the acceptance rate would suggest – the number of applications from black students were significantly dwarfed by those of white applicants. Blue and Gray’s admissions panel laudably ensured the group’s diversity by assuming a racially conscious approach and accepting a greater proportion of black students. At the same time, further progress could be made to ensure that organizations receive applicant pools that are representative of the student body in the first place.
Diversity problems in The Corp, GUASFCU and other student groups are not limited to just their admissions processes. These clubs foster specific cultures and attitudes that, to a certain degree, alienate students of color. Organizations that claim to represent the student body have a responsibility to make minority groups at Georgetown feel accepted and welcomed. Although having more people of color in these organizations is an important step in encouraging more racial minorities to apply, outreach to these groups and internal reform is even more important.
This editorial board maintains that organizations should assume a targeted strategy to club recruitment, approaching specific clubs and communities on campus and encouraging them to apply. Organizing joint events, roundtables and other programming for outreach could encourage minority groups to apply to these clubs in greater numbers.
With a more diverse applicant pool, discriminatory hiring patterns would be easier to spot and clubs would not be forced to hire disproportionately to include minorities in their organizations — ultimately making the application process more fair for students of every race.
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