GW needs to address lack of representation from Midwest, Northwest

One of the many buzzwords on campus is diversity. Whether it’s about race, gender, sexuality, religion or even intellectual or political differences, students and faculty talk about diversity and what GW is lacking. GW recently launched more efforts to recruit multicultural students, with trips to nearby major cities like Philadelphia and Newark, but the University’s next step should be to attract students who reside in the midwest and northwest parts of the U.S. to bring some change to campus.

Hatchet File Photo: Renee Pineda

Hatchet File Photo: Renee Pineda

The University should be advertising directly toward students who aren’t from already well-represented areas like the D.C. metro area, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and California. Specifically, the University should take a more aggressive approach in looking for prospective students in less-represented Midwestern and Northwestern states like Utah, Montana, Kansas and Missouri. This would result in a shift when it comes to intellectual and financial diversity in the student body.

I got into GW because of dumb luck. Originally, I had only applied to state schools in Nebraska, one school in California and another school in Ohio. It wasn’t until my dad’s co-worker learned that I was considering studying political science that he suggested I apply to GW and American universities. And that suggestion is truly the only reason that I applied. There were no GW representatives at the three college fairs that I attended in Nebraska. After I decided to head to GW’s website to do a little digging myself, I figured I might as well apply.

Cartoon by Emily Venezky

Cartoon by Emily Venezky

Most students in my scenario might not have the same luck as I did. The University may believe that students who really want to come will find the school without direct advertising. But if the University is going to advertise that they have students from all 50 states, then they should make a larger and more dedicated effort to send representatives – including alumni – to all states to represent them at college fairs.

If GW made more of a concerted effort to visit states in the Midwest and Northwest, there would be a change on campus. There would be an influx of students who have different backgrounds, which would inevitably stir up new ideas on campus and lead to a student body that is more informed and in touch with all of the U.S. And by increasing the amount of students who come from the Midwest and Northwest, students can start developing a more solid community on campus for people from areas outside of the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area.

I only know two other Nebraskans who have attended GW. One recently graduated, and the other is a junior like me. Whenever I see the fellow Nebraskan on campus, we catch up and reminisce about home. I’m not arguing that GW specifically needs more people from Nebraska in their student body, but it feels like there is a voice or viewpoint that is missing when I can’t think of more than a handful of students who are from the Midwest or the Northwest. That then becomes a voice that is noticeably missing from classroom conversations.

It is common knowledge that GW is a “liberal bubble,” and many students are used to interacting with people who align with mostly liberal ideologies. But college should prepare students for the future, including how to work with – or at least have conversations with – individuals that we disagree with. It is beneficial to interact with students who are from different backgrounds and different parts of the country because it enhances our views and broadens our experience with other people.

The University can be a better advocate for themselves by sending more admissions representatives to college fairs in the Midwest and Northwest, as well as sending packets or brochures to public and private schools with students interested in GW. The University could do this by creating a way in which high schools can direct prospective students to GW representatives or resources. Even asking academic and counseling offices in schools in the Midwest and Northwest to post fliers advertising the University and its programs could make a difference.

Many students on this campus prefer a student body that is not homogenous. Different thoughts and new ideas hardly come from communities with the same racial or geographic backgrounds. GW has already taken the first step in increasing the diversity of our applicants by going test-optional in 2015. Now, the next step is making the effort to advertise to students from the Midwest and Northwest, where perhaps GW’s next student leaders could reside.

Our school can only grow and change so much when the minds that we’re recruiting are all coming from the same place, and it’s time for GW to expand our minds by actively recruiting outside our current bubble.

Renee Pineda, a junior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

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