In the fall of 2013, minorities made up 21 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now, in the fall of 2014 that number has gone up to 22.6 percent.
This increase is in large part due to the diversity of the incoming first-year class. In fact, the class of 2018 is the most diverse class Lehigh has ever had.
Last fall, undergraduate race and ethnicity included: Hispanic of any race 8.01 percent, Asian 6.94 percent, Black or African American 3.35 percent and white 68.42 percent.
Just a year later in the fall of 2014, the numbers have shifted: Hispanic of any race is 8.22 percent, Asian 8 percent, Black or African American 3.71 percent and White 67.03 percent.
Lehigh’s entire Office of Admissions has worked as a team to make this possible, according to Maria Asayag, director of diversity recruitment. The Office prioritizes all aspects of diversifying class makeup, which includes promoting racial, global, religious and geographic diversity, as well as first-generation students. Admissions has been working hard to recruit students that resemble the makeup of not only the United States, but the world as well.
Lehigh’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion are at the forefront. Admissions runs diversity overnight programs at Lehigh for prospective students including the Diversity Achievers Program, the Diversity Overnight Program and the Diversity Life Weekend, which includes 150 accepted students.
D-Life Weekend is run by the admissions office every April to bring students from diverse backgrounds to campus to experience life at Lehigh. In comparison to 2013, the 2014 program had a 9 percent increase in students who, after attending D-Life, enrolled at Lehigh.
“I can say that from my interaction with the students in the class of 2018 over the past year, I spoke with a lot of ‘movers and shakers’ — students that I feel very confident will come here and be strong catalysts for positive change,“ said Elizabeth Guzzo, assistant director of diversity recruitment. “It will be exciting to see the impact they leave on-campus, especially with so many positive initiatives for inclusion and diversity on campus.”
Asayag shared a similar thought on the benefits of campus diversification.
“My hope is that all members of the Lehigh community embrace the incredible learning opportunities that come out of being in a diverse campus setting,” Asayag said. “We can all learn so much from each other.”
Although Lehigh has brought in the most diverse class to date, it does not mean that the issues of diversity on campus are solved.
“The solution does not lie within enrolling more minority students, but a piece of the solution is to provide support for these minorities,”said Paul Lyons, a third-time resident of Umoja House and president of the House Council.
While a more diverse class is not going to solve every issue, it is a step in the right direction for Lehigh after coming away from a year where diversity was a highly prevalent topic. This step forward shows that Lehigh won’t let the actions of a few individuals tear the community down or discredit the hard work in making campus an inclusive place for all.
“To me, what this proactive measure says is that Lehigh is attempting to respond to what is needed on our campus (…) I think the transparency of Lehigh’s administration is benefiting the campus as well,” Lyons said. “The university being an ‘open book’ to students allows for students to trust their university more and feel more willing to share their concerns and know that their voices matter.”