Racial diversity is something that those in fair housing strive for every day. Everyone deserves the right to equal access to housing and opportunity without barriers to resources due to race or national origin. Many fail to recognize that housing is connected to many other facets of society. Thus diversity in other areas including schools is also an important asset for enhancing housing integration. Despite some critics’ belief that school integration would negatively impact the success of students, recent studies have shown that those universities that have a higher racially diverse community, have students that come out more equipped for their career and earn higher salaries long term due to being immersed in different cultures and dialogue with persons from different backgrounds.
The study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that those immersed into a more diverse community throughout their college education are exposed to more global issues. Thus, when these college graduates are looking for jobs, they have more to offer the organizations they are applying to. These graduates are better versed in issues surrounding not only the company but, issues that may affect the company because of more global issues that are occurring.
Of course, there are additional benefits to a racially integrated campus. Students increase their understanding of other cultures and have the opportunity to take this knowledge and use it to better themselves for their career and personal worldview. When schools have increased integration students have more opportunities to build relationships with a variety of individuals and combat the stereotypes college acceptance based on race or receive preferential treatment. Through relationship building it can become clear that students from different backgrounds are just as educated and ambitious and have a lot to contribute to their learning environment and society. More students have the opportunity to go outside of their comfort zone and better understand the world we live in.
I myself attend the University of Illinois at Chicago and went beyond my comfort zone initially. The campus is extremely diverse due to the location and its size. Coming from the suburbs and not attending a racially diverse high school, I never imagined that I would interact and have friendships with the variety of people that I know now. By attending a diverse university, so many more opportunities are available to me because of the vast range of people I interact with on a daily basis.
When attending a more diverse university, students are more likely to step outside their typical boundaries. As students integrate on-campus, the housing and community surrounding the university can become more diverse. Those that are either renting or buying near campus have a better opportunity to understand the dynamics of fair housing because they are immersed in it. The hope is that as they continue to grow and move, they remember the benefits of integration and feel led to promote diverse practices in their housing and all other areas of life.
By Kathryn Miner, Fair Housing Intern
Photo by Calvin College