Statement on Diversity
I. Policy and Definition
Founded in 1891, Seattle University is the largest and among the most diverse independent universities in the Northwest. As set forth in the University's Mission Statement, Seattle University is dedicated to educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world. Seattle University is committed to achieving excellence as the premier independent university of the Northwest in academic quality, Jesuit Catholic inspiration, and service to society.
The University has determined that emphasizing diversity as a matter of institutional policy is an integral component of educational excellence. Students learn better in a diverse educational environment, and they are better prepared to become active participants in our pluralistic, democratic society once they leave such a setting. Jesuit schools have traditionally fostered inclusion and openness toward experiences and ideas that are diverse. Achieving and engaging diversity among students, faculty and staff is a cornerstone of that tradition and Seattle University's institutional policy.
Consistent with this academic judgment, the University shall continue to recruit, admit, retain, and graduate students who meet the University's requirements for academic success and who bring to the University a variety of talents, backgrounds, experiences, and personal characteristics, including but not limited to race; gender; ethnicity; religion; socio-economic background; and geographic origin. The means of achieving and promoting this diversity shall remain flexible, and the manner in which race, ethnicity, and gender are to be considered shall meet standards evolving in federal and state law.
The University's measure of what constitutes a diverse student body may, and should, change. Accordingly, to achieve its educational goals, the University has rejected selection processes for admission and for other academic programs that do not permit individualized assessments. Instead, the University engages in holistic processes that evaluate each student as an individual, using a number of criteria to identify those who can best contribute to, and benefit from, membership in the academic community and its various programs.
II. Educational Benefits of a Diverse Community
The University expects the impact of a diverse community on academic and co-curricular programming to be beneficial to our students, the institution, and the environment in which they both function. Seattle University inspires students to learn, lead and serve in a diverse and changing world. Opinions rendered by a diverse community further the University's educational goals by challenging traditional educational practices and arrangements, and by contributing new perspectives to the curriculum and other scholarly pursuits. The University believes that classes of students from diverse backgrounds, taught by faculty of varied backgrounds, results in a richer and better educational experience. Ultimately, our graduates will have a significant impact on business, education, the arts, law, and sciences for generations to come. We must create a learning environment enriched by diversity on campus so our students will be prepared for professional careers and positions of leadership, and for successful and productive participation in a heterogeneous democracy and global economy.
Everyday experience and empirical studies suggest that the educational benefits and outcomes of a diverse community on academic and co-curricular programming include the following:
- An enriched educational experience. Students who interact with diverse peers and take courses that advance multicultural perspectives show enhanced critical thinking skills; tend to be more engaged in learning; report higher self-assessments of their academic, social and interpersonal skills; are more likely to be involved in community services programs; and are more likely to remain enrolled, and to aspire to advance degrees after graduation.
- Promotion of personal growth. Diversity challenges stereotyped preconceptions; it encourages critical thinking and it helps students learn to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds.
- Promotion of cross-cultural understanding. Education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork; exposes students to common goals and values critical to many occupations; and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions. It also helps students understand why people of diverse backgrounds interpret the same information differently.
- Enhancement of America's economic competitiveness. Sustaining the nation's prosperity in the 21st century will require us to make effective use of the talents and abilities of all our citizens, in work settings that bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
The University recognizes that diversity's positive effects do not automatically accrue from a simple focus on numerical representations of various populations within our University community. Rather, diversity produces benefits through thoughtfully structured policies and programs designed to support and facilitate interaction among students as part of the academic and co-curricular experience. These include outreach and enrichment; recruitment; financial aid; scholarships; general education diversity course requirements; programs designed to improve retention; and to cultivate a learning environment, in and out of the classroom, which enhance the individual and collective experiences of the campus community.
III. Periodic Review
Diversity is not an end result, but a means of achieving a concrete set of educational objectives. Accordingly, the University shall periodically review its diversity-related policies and programs to determine their achievements, and to adjust them as necessary to further those objectives.
Adopted by the Seattle University Board of Trustees February 21, 2008