Two members of the Otterbein community are working to raise the university's low diversity rate.
The higher tuition costs at private universities mean they are often less diverse than public universities, with the national average white student population at private universities being 60%.
Otterbein is 75% white, making the campus 15% less diverse than the national average.
Michelle Armour, the admission counselor in the Enrollment Management Division, has worked at Otterbein for nearly two years and knew something needed to change. When commenting on an Otterbein University Student Government (OUSG) Town Hall meeting she said, “some of the problems that the students were complaining about in that town hall really made me sad because it reminded me of things I went through twenty years ago when I was in college.”
Last year, Armour started a diversity ambassador program, and seven students are currently involved. Armour and her students visit local schools and talk to students who have been accepted to Otterbein about their financial aid package and what life is like on campus. Armour said she started this new program “so that students can see there are students like them here, representation matters."
Frank Dobson Jr., director of the Office of Social Justice and Activism, focuses on how to create a sense of belonging for students of color after starting college.
Dobson’s said his primary goal is to develop student leaders of color and to create a dialogue between students so they can effectively communicate. “We have students from so many different backgrounds and ideally our students would learn from one another,” he said.
Though they have not been on campus long, Armour and Dobson have been able to strengthen community outreach to students of color and make the Otterbein campus a more hospitable environment.
“Hopefully, the university realizes the importance of having diverse voices on campus,” Armour said.