What is diversity at a US university? Diversity means recognizing our differences and creating a welcoming space for all types of people. Every university in the United States aims for diversity among its student body; diverse classrooms promote understanding and teach students communication skills and different ways of thinking. After class is over, diversity clubs, international buddy programs, multicultural dormitories, and even campus-wide events (such as parades) aim to provide students of all identities with a community, an opportunity for expression, and a chance to learn something new.
What Are Diversity Clubs?
Diversity clubs are organized around a specific ethnicity, nationality, language, and/or interest, and provide a fun way for students to connect and bond both within and beyond their group. They offer great opportunities for new international students to build relationships with their classmates and make new friends. For many international students, studying abroad is both exciting and scary. Despite the virtual tours, advisory meetings, and WhatsApp calls, it is easy to feel nervous the first day on campus in a new country. Diversity clubs are great for creating friendships, and they are safe places to be yourself.
Is There a Diversity Club for Me at US Universities?
There are many opportunities at US universities to find a community; no matter who you are or where you are from, there is a safe place for you to find friends. Diversity clubs can be as big as the International Student Organization at American University or as specific as the Polish American Pharmacist Association Student Committee at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).
Diversity clubs have many roles on campus, but two of the most important involve providing spaces for students to:
Express their own identity
Learn from and interact with other students who identify differently
In addition, many clubs have a mission, such as community service or social justice representation. Others help students begin networking to build professional contacts, and others aim to represent their group through performance and presentations. If you do not see the right club for you on campus, you can start your own, like Emily from Myanmar did at UIC. Diversity clubs are welcoming environments and promote cross-cultural understanding and empathy.
What Are Some Examples of Diversity Clubs in the US?
Diversity-focused clubs and groups at US universities come in all shapes and sizes. Many hold events on campus to welcome new members; these are great opportunities to learn if a club is right for you. The International Student Organization at Auburn University holds social hours representing different cultures every week. Students learn more about their classmates and sample free food (authentic to the featured culture) while they mingle.
Beyond clubs, campus diversity can be represented in residence halls and university departments. American University’s Leonard Hall is a popular dormitory for international students, housing close to 300 students from all over the world. Florida International University’s Multicultural Programs and Service (MPAS) department combines diversity opportunities on campus with social responsibility and inclusive community building. The MPAS calendar is full of inclusive events available to students. They also host an annual Diversity Day and an annual Parade of Flags through campus. Adelphi University has a rich offering of diversity organizations, including:
Females of Culture United for Success
Gender and Sexuality Alliance
Latino Student Association
South Asian Student Association
Do not be intimidated about coming to the United States alone to study. There are many cultural diversity clubs, organizations, and events on campuses across the country designed to represent and provide a voice for all types of people. If you are interested in learning more about diversity clubs on your campus, reach out through social media before you arrive. Clubs are welcoming and happy to answer your questions. Who knows, you may arrive at your US university with some plans or even a few friends waiting for you!
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