As a college student, you become much more aware of people and perspectives that are different than you’ve experienced. A major part of your college experience is undoubtedly your teachers. Students unconsciously become reflections of the instruction we receive from our mentors.
We need variety among our professors to challenge and encourage us to wrestle with what we believe. By getting different perspectives, we are able to form our own opinions from varying backgrounds.
As of fall 2016, 14 percent of the faculty identifies as a minority, according to Baylor Institutional Research and Testing. Sadly, this is not equal to the diversity in our student body, which sits at 36 percent. Of the roughly 1,062 faculty members, 40 percent are women. We applaud the Baylor administration’s effort to emphasize the need for inclusion among students, but we hope that the same initiative will be taken for faculty members as well.
Baylor has taken steps to increase diversity through initiatives like the campus diversity committee, the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth Palacios, special assistant to the president on diversity, and established affinity community groups like the Latinx Coalition, Black Student Union and the Asian Coalition. There have also been efforts to increase the minority faculty numbers by increasing the number of faculty candidate interviews, creating search committee funds and a search committee “toolkit,” according to the Baylor Diversity and Inclusion website.
When discussing this topic in our editorial board meeting, we all thought back on the number of faculty members we have had who were women or minorities. Between the seven members of the editorial board, we could each only recall just one or two. If we have to look back and think about how many professors we’ve had that are women or people of color, that is an issue.
Diversity is more than hiring professors that are women or minorities; it is about including voices that are traditionally not represented. As students, we have an opportunity to learn from a variety of professors with complex backgrounds, and that is not being capitalized on.
We need various backgrounds in our faculty so that we leave Baylor with a well-rounded perspective that will prepare us for a global society. If we are being educated by professors with all the same cultural background and ethnicity, then we are not going to be exposed to different perspectives. To fulfill the university’s mission of being global leaders, we have to be equipped with faculty and staff from various cultures.
For diversity to be increased, we must foster an environment that is welcoming to multicultural faculty. Faculty could engage students in worldly conversation and can also advocate for hiring diverse peers in their departments.
As students, we should be advocates for our education and stand up for diversity among faculty as well. We have the privilege to attend Baylor during the university’s first female presidency. We are excited to see where this university goes under President Linda Livingstone’s leadership, but the work is not done.
We are proud to be attending a university that is taking strides to increase diversity with students, but now is the time to stand for it within our faculty. Baylor’s brightest days are soon to come, and our faculty will play an instrumental role in it.