Kathryn Long, Staff Writer
February 19, 2016
“We’re concerned that the Honors Program is currently white-dominated and needs to include more students of color in the academic opportunities that it offers,” said junior Molly Anne Marcotte, Community Senate president.
Recently, Marcotte and other students have voiced concerns regarding a lack of diversity in the Honors Program at Guilford College.
“The perception is … that the program is not diverse,” said Heather Hayton, director of the Guilford Honors Program in response to some students’ recent questioning of diversity in the Honors Program.
While there is some concern about a lack of diversity, statistics show that the Fall 2015 Honors Program incoming class was comprised of 30.7 percent students of color. In comparison, students of color comprised 34 percent of the Fall 2015 first-year traditional student enrollment, according to Guilford admissions data.
While the data show no lack of diversity in the Honors Program when compared to first-year admissions, some students remain concerned about the atmosphere within the program.
“I think we need to be mindful that statistics are a very important element in highlighting an issue empirically, but I do think we also need to listen to student experiences on campus,” said Marcotte.
“We … have heard personal anecdotes of students of color who left the Honors Program because they were uncomfortable trying to pursue their academic goals in such a white-dominated space,” said Marcotte. “I think we need to be intentional in making sure that all students have the same opportunities.”
Gerardo Marcos-Ocampo, a sophomore in the Honors Program and steering chair of the Diversity Action Committee echoed this concern.
He suggests the creation of “a support system for those … of color who are in the Honors Program to make sure … that they feel … safe to speak and be themselves in a space where there is a lack of diversity.”
Hayton acknowledged the importance of diversity and the Honors Program’s efforts to attract diverse students.
“I think our diversity in the program for last year’s cohort certainly is enviable by most colleges, and we are doing everything we can to try and encourage a diverse population to come to Guilford as well as to be in the Honors Program,” said Hayton.
Students looking to be accepted into the Honors Program must first be admitted into Guilford. The main criteria are academic and performance based, including tests scores, high school grades, writing samples and teacher recommendations. Most students join the program as first-year students.
There have been suggestions to modify the Honors Program to allow it to broaden its scope, however.
“Let’s talk to those students who are doing great in school, but just need that extra push, that incentive, to see other students like them being represented in the Honors Program,” said Marcos-Ocampo. “Let’s just find a way to bring and attract other students that we aren’t really attracting as of now.”
Recently, the Honors Program has received approval to expand and accept more students, which may allow the program to increase its diversity.
“Starting this year for our incoming class of Fall 2016, our goal is to eventually double the size of the Honors Program,” said Hayton. “We can be slightly less selective and pay more attention to things like a … further range of diversity.”