The Office of Multicultural Enrichment has been making efforts to increase diversity around campus, while also pushing for a higher rate of retention among minority students.
Byron Martin, director of multicultural enrichment and support, said OME pushes for a higher rate of retention to increase the feeling of having a diverse culture on the ACU campus. He said retention is not just based on financial reasons and grades. It is also based on students having a sense of belonging.
Dr. Jeanene Reese, associate professor and associate chair of the department of Bible, Missions and Ministry, said she thinks maintaining the retention rate is a big part of the mission of OME.
“I think that office does a really good job of trying to give students a place to go, a place to be, organizations that it supports, that kind of thing,” Reese said.
Five student groups are under the direction of OME: Black Students Association, Hispanos Unidos and Virtuous Sisterhood, along with performance groups SHADES and Sanctify. Martin said these groups add to the feeling of culture and belonging.
He said another way OME helps retention and diversity is by helping students adapt to college processes.
“Not just here, but across the nation, a lot of students of color are first generation college students,” he said. “So sometimes the processes of college are sometimes a little difficult to navigate, and so we do a strong piece in helping students navigate those processes.”
He said OME also helps out in the area of recruiting. Using contacts around the state and around the nation, Martin said more minority students can be recruited to come to ACU.
“Every now and then we’ll help out by making a recruiting trip somewhere with an admissions recruiter, or helping make some of those connections, developing some of those pipelines into more diverse communities that are already represented,” Martin said.
Martin said diversity has increased and the increase is apparent in this semester’s incoming class. The freshman class this semester is the most ethnically diverse class in ACU history.
Martin said one of the reasons OME felt the need to increase diversity was because they want ACU to reflect what the church should be. He also said there was a need to increase diversity because students would benefit from the educational value of interacting with students from other cultures and points of view.
He said when students have the opportunity to interact with students from other cultures it enriches their perspective and their ability to “see the world and change it.”