Does Viterbo truly have diversity?

By Jessica Hartling

Campus Life Assistant Editor

In December 2012, Joycelyn Fish, a senior organizational communication major from Reedsburg, Wis., wrote an article in Lumen which discussed the nature and mission of the Diversity Task Force (DTF) on campus. The DTF’s mission to establish an environment on campus which fosters people to learn, be respectful and supportive of different people. This topic of diversity on campus and the DTF resulted in a range of Viterbo student opinions.

Shane Reinbold, junior social work major from Bismarck, N.D., is on the diversity task force. “The DTF is important for campus,” Reinbold told Lumen. “We realized that campus was becoming more diverse, and that this was needed.”

According to the DTF, diversity is defined “as including but not limited to differences in age, culture, ethnicity, gender, learning style, mental health, physical abilities, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.”

With the DTF definition in mind, Reinbold said that Viterbo is diverse and is preparing students for life after graduation. “Viterbo is the real world for us right now and Viterbo is diverse. It may not appear diverse in the common sense of the meaning and that is the reason for the DTF. Diversity is more than just skin-deep.”

Reinbold stated that fostering appreciation for diversity comes from Viterbo’s five core values that it integrates into its curriculum: hospitality, integrity, service, stewardship, and contemplation.                “Hospitality is important for the world outside of Viterbo. If we can build a solid foundation of hospitality here on campus, students will then go and treat all people with respect and dignity,” Reinbold said.

Kristin Ernst, non-traditional nursing major from Sacramento, Calif., agrees with Reinbold’s opinion of diversity on campus. “While we are not diverse when looking at race, we are diverse in terms of socioeconomics, backgrounds, states and walks of life,” Ernst said.

Ernst feels like she brings diversity to this campus. “I bring a different outlook: I am older, did the military, got married, had a child and decided to come back to school. I feel like I bring maturity to some of my classes.”

Not everyone agrees with Reinbold’s and Ernst’s opinions, however. Other students feel that there is very little to no diversity on campus and that it hurts students post-graduation.

Benedict Ritscher, freshman mathematics major from Obermichelbach, Germany explained that people’s views of diversity,  “depends on what your definition of diversity is. I believe diversity is different things combining with each other. Viterbo has some diversity; we have a variety of fauna on campus. Ethnically, we are not the strongest.”

“Not having diversity is harmful to students,” Miya Thomas, junior studio art major from Sparta, Wis. said. “Viterbo is a tiny fish bowl compared to the ocean of the real world. It’s important to be aware and educated about different people and their views. I do not think that Viterbo offers diversity and it is very, very harmful,”

“We strive for diversity, but we are not really diverse,” Thomas said. “There are people in this school and community who try to incorporate it. Diversity makes people uncomfortable because it is different. Viterbo is really trying, though, with classes, speakers and clubs.”

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