Kent State targets diversity, not race

Regina Garcia Cano

‘Diversity essential’ in academic setting

The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education instructed state-funded colleges not to use race during admissions unless it is “essential” to each institution’s “mission and stated goals.”

The statement released in late August came in the wake of two 2003 Supreme Court decisions involving the use of race in admissions at the University of Michigan. In one case, the court ruled that the university’s use of race as “a decisive factor for virtually every minimally qualified underrepresented minority applicant” was unlawful.

At Kent State, Pete Goldsmith, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, said race is not essential – but diversity is.

Goldsmith said prospective Kent State students now have the option of choosing more than one category when defining their ethnicity in the application form.

Future students are given the following options:


• African American

• American Indian or Alaskan Native

• Asian American or Pacific Islander

• Caucasian

• Hispanic or Latino

• Non-U.S. citizen

Ethnic category

• Not Hispanic or Latino

• Hispanic or Latino

“We want Kent State to be an inclusive community,” Goldsmith said. “We want folks of all ages, of all ethnic backgrounds, of all religious persuasions, of gender orientation, across the gamma of difference.

“We want Kent state to be a place where people feel comfortable, feel that they are supported (and) feel that they can be successful.”

Kent State’s admission application requires students to identify themselves with one or more ethnic groups. Goldsmith said the statistics obtained from these answers are used solely to report to the federal government the ethnic makeup of the university.

“Our admissions policies do not use race as a factor,” Goldsmith said. “(Admission depends upon) whether or not that student meets our criteria for admission, first to the university and second to the program of study that he or she is seeking.”

For Vice Provost Steve Michael, the statistics are useful to have an overview of the student population.

“(Statistics) help us to be strategic in recruiting diverse student body,” Michael said. “If you don’t know what you have, you don’t know what you lack.”

Goldsmith said to diversify the student community, eight recruiters promote Kent State within Ohio and five more do it across the United States.

Despite the university not using race as a decisive factor, some people believe the ethnicity check box should not be included in admission forms.

“There is only a human race; there is not a black and a white race, and a brown race and a yellow race,” said Timothy Moore, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are not colors; we are cultures. We have different geographical locations that have brought us all here, but we are not different races.

“Who has black skin? No body. We are all different shades of brown – from light, light, light to dark, dark, dark – but there is no black skin anywhere.”

Moore said he dislikes the idea of the check box. Still, he said he understands that some economic and political decisions are based on the demographics of a given region.

Michael said the university tries to reflect the citizenry of Ohio in the student body. Michael said he is aware of the necessity of recruiting more Hispanics and Native American students.

For Moore, diversity is a necessity in the American society.

“If they (students) don’t get exposure to diversity here, they will be unprepared to go into the workforce and interact with people from different backgrounds,” Moore said. “So, diversity is essential in the educational environment.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].