Minorities report in record numbers

By Kate Shepherd

The College has boosted its minority and international student enrollment to an all-time high with the incoming first-year class. Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, multiracial, and international students make up 43 percent of the Class of 2011.

Michael Behnke, vice president and dean of college enrollment, said he hopes the increase is related to changes the University has made in the past years to improve the climate for minority students.

“While I am sure we have much still to do, I hope that our efforts have helped signal that we are serious about fostering diversity,” he said.

Admissions Dean Ted O’Neill said he hopes the admissions office’s impending change to the Common Application will attract an even wider array of students, while the uncommon supplement further informs students about the University’s atmosphere.

Despite the difficulty of attracting students who might not normally consider the U of C, the increased interest from minority students is a result of the University’s growing reputation for excellence, said Behnke.

According to Behnke, the Class of 2011 includes 138 international students from 41 countries including Singapore, South Korea, China, India, and Malaysia.

First-year Anne Konig, an international student, was born in Brussels, Belgium, grew up in Germany, and most recently lived in Luxembourg. Konig explained that she knew the U of C was a good college when she applied but that the University’s curriculum was the decisive factor in her choice to come here.

“In European colleges, you have to decide immediately what you want to do. You don’t have the opportunity to take as many electives as you do here,” Konig said.

O’Neill said diversity is crucial to the type of education the University offers.

“In a college that specifically has designed a curriculum to educate students in ways of inquiring about and understanding a big world and to act as citizens of a democracy, our educational conversation would be impoverished if we didn’t have representatives of various countries, ideologies, and groups at our tables,” he said.

Senior Assistant Director of Admissions and Director of International Admissions Isabel Gomez said the whole University community, not just the Class of 2011, is diverse.

“Diversity isn’t about numbers. It is about the transformative experience of realizing that something you took for granted is only one way of thinking. We can’t force people to have that experience by socially engineering a class,” she said.