By Tatyanna Carman
Fifty % of this year’s freshmen are people of color, making it the most diverse class ever at Rider, according to Associate Vice President for University Marketing & Communications Kristine Brown.
The class is made up of 1% international, 6% Asian, 18% African-American, 19% Hispanic, 50% white and 6% other ethnicities or multi-ethnic students. Over the past four years, each of the classes has grown in diversity: 50% of freshmen, 40% of sophomores, 43% of juniors, and 40% of seniors are people of color, according to Vice President of Enrollment Management Drew Aromando.
“I believe that Rider is a place where individuals are respected for who they are, and are supported to achieve their personal success,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Leanna Fenneberg. “Realizing that students who attend college who have identities that are underrepresented, marginalized or under-resourced may face additional challenges to achieve their personal success, it is incumbent upon the university to offer sincere and appropriate support. The diversity of our student body requires us all to learn more, to do more and to be more to effectively serve all of our students.”
This class of students is the most diverse compared to 45% in fall of 2018, 45% in fall of 2017, 43% in fall of 2016, 41% in fall of 2015 and 17% in fall of 2014.
Freshman accounting major Jesus Rodriguez-Meza noticed the sense of diversity at Rider and spoke on his experience being a minority in an academic environment.
“I notice it a lot more because
I’m from Middletown, New Jersey, and that’s probably 90% white. In my classes, I was the only Hispanic student,” Rodriguez-Meza said. “Anytime the teacher had to say something about [President Donald Trump] they would be somewhat cautious in the sense that they don’t want to offend me and they’ll avoid eye contact with me. And I noticed it, because it was kind of obvious. Here, I look around classes and I often see people of color sitting next to me, sitting across from me, sitting behind me and it makes me feel secure and it makes me feel like I’m not the odd one out.”
Sophomore business administration major Thomas McKeithan commented on how the increase in diversity with this year’s freshmen could impact Rider, including some critiques he had about inclusion at the school.
McKeithan felt that the university could be more open with the issues of diversity that the university struggles with, including, he said, “Turning Point USA even being an organization.”
McKeithan said other issues include a lack of empathy at the financial aid office when it comes to “getting work done when parents don’t know how to do the financial aid paperwork” or “how professors’ words need to be watched when they teach classes.”
Rider has established The President’s Council on Inclusion, which includes students, faculty and staff, according to Fenneberg. It conducted an in-depth analysis of how Rider supports the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. There will be a launch event for the council on Oct. 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Cavalla Room and it will be simulcasted for the Princeton campus at Talbott Library.
“We are excited to educate the campus community on Rider’s commitment to these important issues and engage students, faculty, staff, alumni and families in this work — understanding that a truly inclusive campus community requires action from all of us. Myself and Alison-Thomas Cottingham serve as co-chairs for the President’s Council on Inclusion,” said Fenneberg.