President aims to make Simpson more diverse

by Carl Benskin

President John Byrd has decided Simpson needs a change. Byrd wants to increase the college’s diversity on two levels.

“You’re talking about two different kinds of diversity: geographic and ethnic,” Byrd said.

According to Byrd, the college isn’t getting enough students from outside of Iowa. He wants to market Simpson around the country to increase national awareness and attract more diverse students.

Byrd added that more diversity can only benefit the college. He compared Simpson to a store, with very few customers.

“If you think of Iowa as a customer, we have only one customer,” Byrd said. “We need to go out of state.”

Junior Roland Hawkins thinks it’s a good idea to market the college nationwide.

“I applaud them on that,” Hawkins said.

Byrd said that while he is looking for more out-of-state students, he won’t ignore prospective students from Iowa.

“We get great students from Iowa,” Byrd said.

Currently only nine percent of Simpson’s students come from out of state. Byrd would like that percentage to increase to around 35 percent.

Hawkins said Simpson should target cities where the multicultural populations are higher.

“Washington D.C. would be a great place,” Hawkins said.

The other area Byrd wants to improve is multicultural diversity. Already, Simpson is making the George Washington Carver scholarship more accessible. However, Byrd said another way Simpson is working on multicultural diversity is by doing a better job communicating with prospective students.

“We have started developing publications and have a greater Web presence,” Byrd said.

Simpson is working toward more multicultural diversity by recruiting students from states like Missouri and Illinois. The college’s admissions counselors are focusing on metropolitan areas like Kansas City and Minneapolis.

Senior Jacob Van Cleaf said Simpson would have to look outside Iowa to achieve true multicultural diversity.

“Iowa doesn’t have the minority population necessary to support the kind [of diversity] Simpson desires,” Van Cleaf said.

Byrd said this goal is an attempt to make Simpson more of a real-world experience.

“We would like the campus environment to reflect the real-world environment,” he said.

According to Byrd, more diversity will allow the Simpson community to have a wider range of attitudes and beliefs.

“If we are successful with other plans, we will bring in more ideas,” Byrd said.

Specifically, he said the college would like to increase its diversity in religion and politics.

Hawkins said recruiting diverse students isn’t the only problem Simpson has. He said the college needs to keep students here once they arrive.

According to Hawkins, one way to do this would be to discuss diversity in classrooms and focus on communication. He’s experienced the awkwardness of communication here.

“I will say hi to people and sometimes they act like they have never talked to an African-American before,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said adding more diversity education to the Liberal Arts Seminar program would be a great start. He said this would make people more comfortable with questions about diversity and give them a way to discuss them in a respectful manner.

He said the race video that has been shown in Language Arts Seminars is starting to get at the problem, but he questions how effective that single video has been.

Byrd said the college is working hard on the issue.

“Both areas, geographical and cultural diversity, are two important, long-term goals,” Byrd said.

Byrd said the college is planning ways to increase diversity. He couldn’t cite specific goals, but did say he’d like to increase diversity in all categories.