Editorial: Improving Faculty Diversity
Diversity and inclusion.
Diversity and inclusion. We often hear these two words around campus and they have been at the center of many speeches and events planned by both student leaders and the administration itself. It's undeniable that Lawrenceville emphasizes the importance of having a diverse student body; however, creating a community with a breadth of cultures and backgrounds requires more than just focusing on students themselves. Ultimately, the diversity of faculty members should mirror that of the student body in order for more of us to feel fully supported on campus.
First, it must be made clear that this is not a criticism of the existing faculty at Lawrenceville. Our teachers are capable and intelligent not only in the classroom itself, but as coaches on the fields, advisors in the houses, and mentors throughout our Lawrenceville experience. It is understandable that the need to find people who can not only seamlessly step into multiple roles at once while also being excellent in their profession presents significant challenges when seeking diversity. Nevertheless, despite these roadblocks, our present school statistics demonstrate that an active and expanding effort to seek faculty diversity is still needed. While 50 percent of our student body is comprised of people of color, only ten percent of the faculty represent minority groups. Moreover, although eight percent of Lawrentians are South Asian, there are no faculty members who come from such backgrounds. Lowering the drastic disparity between these numbers by increasing faculty from different ethnic and racial groups will ultimately serve to benefit our community.
An insufficiently diverse faculty will hinder the development of student confidence, mental health, and a sense of belonging. Lawrenceville does have a wealth of support systems to ensure the mental wellbeing of its students, but in reality, the needs of a diverse community are nuanced. Oftentimes, speaking to an adult who can relate to our cultural troubles can bring us more comfort than if we simply talk to a professional. While the Harkness method encourages us to speak our minds, many of us, understandably, are not openly vocal about personal issues and even less so about issues pertaining to our identities. Thus, a student would greatly benefit from being able to turn to a faculty member of the same culture or background. Many of us carry the baggage of certain family issues or conflicts unique to their communities that outsiders, regardless of extensive research or insight, cannot fully grasp; thus, a faculty member from a similar background could serve as a valuable source of support.
A diverse faculty also pushes us to pursue greater academic success because we have different sorts of role models to look up to. If students don't see members of their own race, culture, ethnicity, or any other attribute of their identity represented in certain fields of study, they are bound to feel somewhat discouraged and will be less likely to pursue that career path, especially if it is unheard of in a student's community. Our teachers are the gateway to the world of academia and they play a pivotal role in our future academic endeavors. A diverse faculty will help students of minority backgrounds pursue the careers they are passionate about, even if these careers are in fields traditionally dominated by other groups.
At the end of the day, a more diverse faculty will not only encourage Lawrentians to pursue their interests in less prevalent fields of study but it will also allow us to feel more comfortable at school. Knowing that we have someone who truly understands our personal and culture-specific struggles will reassure us that we are supported and heard, simultaneously alleviating some of the many pressures we may feel in daily life, such as conforming to our own communities' standards. Although the School should not hire members for the mere sake of appearance, there are likely plenty of educators out there from minority backgrounds who are extremely qualified. The entire Lawrenceville community should take it upon itself to call for concrete action in advancing the cause of a more diverse faculty in order to better the experience of the entire student body.