The Old Capital Building is shown at sunset on June 30, 2014 after a storm in Iowa City, Iowa. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

Shaw: Weak advertising hinders program support for underrepresented students


Programs of support for underrepresented students are ineffectively advertised and lead to an ignorance on campus toward available resources that have the potential to cultivate immense success.

Nichole Shaw

The University of Iowa champions diversity and inclusion for minority and underrepresented students. However, most of these groups feel lost in a surrounding environment that is predominantly white. The disorientation is relative to the false perception of missing minority support that stems from the absence of program advertising.

Often, it is apparent students don’t know about helpful programs such as the Center for Diversity and Enrichment — which assists in the support of underrepresented students and cultivates their individual success on campus.

UI freshman Cameron Owens said, “I’ve heard of CDE but don’t actually know what they do.”

This lack of knowledge about a program that is vital to the support of underrepresented students hinders the ability for them to be the best they can be. Effective advertising can eliminate that obstacle. A student should never feel hopeless and isolated here on campus.

RELATED: UI works on inclusion, diversity

Of the students at UI, 17.9 percent are ethnic minorities as of the fall of 2017. Owens, an African American, is a part of this group.

Owens said he has experienced racial prejudice at the UI. “I had a coworker that used the N-word,” he said. In a social climate in which racial issues still present themselves as social conflicts, it is useful to have a support system that could coach individuals on how to handle precarious situations in which individuals may be judged, marginalized, discriminated against, and unfairly oppressed simply for being who they are.

The Diversity Center is one of those resources that can help with these conflicts, said Assistant Director Lauren Garcia. “We help with academic coaching. We help with identity related issues. We do  a lot of student programming for students to engage with their communities and find a comfortable space on campus … to correctly manage the micro- or macro-aggressions challenges they face,” she said. The ability to support students so widely is exactly why advertising the program should be boosted to reach a broader audience and make an impact.

RELATED: Students, not silence, still welcome here

The limitations the center faces in its outreach stem from its primary ways of contacting students are through emails if you have the Advantage Iowa scholarship or follow its social media. If students don’t receive these notifications, they will not hear about a program that builds a sense of community, celebrates cultures, and educates students.

“We are still exploring the best way to reach students … to expand our scope and our reach so that students know there is a program to assist them,” Garcia said.

The center must be exposed on a greater scale to UI students to embody the standards the university has set for diversity and inclusion.

“Minority and underrepresented students are absolutely welcome here; They are set to be successful here … students should realize that there are resources and support on campus for them to be successful if they know where to look,” Garcia said.

Become aware of the resources you have here at this beautiful, inclusive institution, and use your diversity as a power.

RELATED: Students questioning whether they belong at the University of Iowa, survey shows

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