I attended a three-day diversity camp called “Camp Crimson” before the start of my freshman year of college at the University of Oklahoma. Within those few days on campus, we participated in various activities where we interacted as a group, watched multiple videos, and discussed how to create a more ‘diverse’ and ‘inclusive’ university. After attending diversity camp, I can think of several occasions of outright racist or discriminate words that were said to another classmate of mine, whether it be before or after class. Even with this training and a rising diverse student body across the nation, “most students leave college with the same assumptions with which they entered” (Stewart). Over time it became abundantly clear to me that these diversity training courses weren’t nearly as effective as I once thought and that change to these courses is crucially needed if we ever hope to rid of these bigoted mindsets and discriminatory behaviors on our campuses someday.
Many people assume that mandatory diversity training is effectively ridding of these discriminate behaviors and bigoted mindsets in our campus and nation today. One study in the Journal of College Student Development confirmed this and stated that there was an increase of moral development after attending one. While others have contended the exact opposite and found that it has little, if any, effect upon people and fades as time passes (Bezrukova). Another study even found that talking about stereotypes within these courses can lead to even more resentment towards minority groups than before (Lindsey). Overall, there does seem to be a consensus between researchers today that diversity training simply does not work (McGregor). Higher education continues to use diversity training to solve all these wide-reaching issues today despite any clear evidence of positive impact or research to back them up.
Yet, there are still people that would contest that these incidences of racist, bigoted, and discriminatory behaviors are simply isolated events perpetuated by such few people that any change to these courses is not needed. Incidences of racism, discrimination, and bigoted mindsets are anything but isolated and, in fact, between the 2017-18 school year, the U.S. saw an average of seventy-seven percent increase in white supremacist groups and these behaviors across the nation’s campuses (White). The depth of these groups and these oppressive/ bigoted mindsets goes so much farther than just the interactions of students. It applies to the organizations in the university, propaganda on campuses, hate crimes, professors, and the institutions too. One student summed the wide scope of these issues in higher education perfectly, after attending the first year of diversity training, in how they “teach their course, the texts that they assign, the topics that they highlight and the way that they interact with their classroom. It all goes back to race, and the system that race plays into” (Bell). It’s become quite common today to dismiss racist or discriminate incidences as solitary acts of hate, but contrary to popular belief they are quite common, are actually on the rise, and have the potential to be intertwined within every part of the student’s interaction on campus.