Nate French

Why I published: #Diversity @ Wake Forest

In 2015 I attended a lunch with several Winston-Salem Community leaders of color.  Poking fun at my Wake Forest shirt, one person asked, loudly, “Do Black people actually go to Wake Forest?”  Well, YES – and we’re not all on the football or basketball team!  Since I first decided to come to wake Forest in 1989 diversity has been an ever-present factor – even as everyone acts as if it isn’t.  Race, ethnicity, national identity, religious affiliation, gender and class matter at Wake Forest -  just like those issues matter everywhere else.  

The Integration Project

In 1942 the first woman was admitted to Wake Forest College.  Twenty years later in 1962 the first African student stepped onto Wake Forest’s campus.  For years the number of African-American students would be very low.  In 1986 the percentage was just under 4%.  Following the protest of white students, Wake established the Office of Minority Affairs and began recruiting African-American students.  Since that time the numbers of diverse students have flourished at Mother So Dear.  

Now we count in our numbers First Generation and DACA students.  We have the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), and not just an Association of Students Interested in Asia (ASIA) but a Korean Student Association (KSA) and a Japanese Student Association (JSA) among others.  There are different religious groups like the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and the Hillel society for Jewish students.  Moreover, we include a growing International Population from China, India, South Africa and Peru among other countries.  And, our percentage of female students is 53%.  

Inclusivity

Though our diversity has grown exponentially there is much work to be done to include everyone.  It is not easy work.  Not everyone will be “happy” as we work through what it means to be inclusive.   In years past we have been content to add different types of people.  The welcome addition of differently gendered, pigmented and/or linguistically gifted bodies was a crucial first step.  Now we take the next step.  

It’s not just #Diversity @ Wake Forest, it’s #Diversity & Inclusion @ Wake Forest.