Demographics at Otterbein have been changing greatly recently, with a growing amount of diversity in recent years.
While Otterbein was known to have a lack of diversity in the past, they have welcomed one of their most diverse classes this fall semester.
Although unofficial until the fall semester census date on September 11th, 2023, the freshman class consisted of 61.3% White students, 15% Black/African American students, 9% Hispanic students, 7.2% multiracial, 4% Asian, 0.4% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 2.9% unknown. It also consisted of 62% female students and 38% male students.
“We’ve certainly achieved a lot over the last ten or fifteen years,” Jefferson Blackburn-Smith said. As the vice president of enrollment management at Otterbein, he shared as well that the university has become significantly more diverse than it was in the past.
“We want there to be a culture of inclusion and a sense of belonging,” he said.
One way to create a sense of community is to promote and advertise student organizations, clubs, groups, and activities more often.
Jordan Hogans, a freshman at Otterbein, recently joined the Black Student Union and said she is happy to have gotten involved. However, she also said that there are more people that want to get involved.
“I feel like they could promote it more,” Hogans said about the organizations on campus. “Like I’m looking around here right now, and I don’t see many posters about it."
Numerous groups and organizations on campus are taking action to help the growing population of students from diverse backgrounds to feel more involved and a part of the community.
The Office of Social Justice and Activism (OSJA) has been hard at work to improve and engage students of all different backgrounds through three main types of programming - cultural and educational, student support and development, as well as community outreach and service.
A few of the organizations that were supported through this include the Men of Vision, Freezone, Sisters United, Black Student Union, and HOLA.
According to Frank Dobson Jr., the chief diversity officer at Otterbein University, diverse environments not only bring a variety of backgrounds, but also a variety of experiences.
“We get to hear from various different perspectives of those who may have completely different lives than us,” he said. “These perspectives allow us to become more global citizens and expand our horizons.”
These are just a few of the ways that everyone can work together in order to create a more welcoming community at Otterbein. It all starts with building community and understanding.
“We want to honor, respect, and be able to listen to others’ perspectives," Dobson Jr. said.