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WWU’s Diversity Disparity

WWU’s Diversity Disparity

An Interview with Pedrito Maynard-Reid About the Perception of Diversity on Campus  

By Josh Beaudoin 

Summary: Many students believe that WWU is not as diverse as it is touted to be. I talked with Pedrito Maynard-Reid about why this might be and how we can change that perception.  

Pedrito Maynard-Reid. Photo by Walla Walla University.  

College Factual is a website that ranks colleges and universities around the United States on a large variety of criteria. In 2019, they ranked Walla Walla University among the top 10% of universities in the U.S. based on diversity. This diversity rank comes from a variety of metrics including age, race, gender, and the presence of students from outside the state and country. [1] 

Some people see that score and say, “Look at the score, we can stop now.” [2] But this is far from the case, and the reality on campus says otherwise. 

Based on an Instagram poll by The Collegian, 72% of respondents believe this ranking to be an inaccurate representation of the University. [3] 

An oft cited metaphor is that America is a melting pot where different cultures come together and assimilate, melting into one big mass. However, Pedrito Maynard-Reid, assistant to the president for diversity and professor of Biblical studies and missiology, challenged that narrative by saying that America isn’t a melting pot, but rather a beautiful fruit salad where each piece of fruit is able to stand out. 

Maynard-Reid described that sometimes, you just want to taste a specific type of fruit, which is why we have events like Black History Month where we collectively celebrate the beauty and experience of an individual type of fruit. [4]  

The lack of diversity in our campus culture could be a big reason why WWU is perceived to be less diverse than how we are ranked.  

The College Factual ranking accounts for many factors, but it doesn’t rate the culture of the university, which Maynard-Reid described as not being representative of the school’s ethnic and cultural diversity. As of this year, 43% of the students at WWU are non-white*—a statistic which is not reflected in campus leadership and the types of events chosen. [5] For example, many of the bands and speakers who come to campus fail to represent our cultural diversity. 

But our diversity shortfalls are not limited to race and culture. In our previous two issues, The Collegian showed how some of the wording in our student handbook and the campus culture has made it difficult for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to feel welcomed and accepted (see issues 11 and 12). 

“Some people are very selective in who they like and who they don’t like,” said Maynard-Reid. They hold sexuality at the top of the sin hierarchy and discriminate against people who don’t conform to their beliefs of a “proper” lifestyle. This may be because of how they grew up (some people grew up being taught that certain sins were worse than others), and it’s very hard to change that way of thinking. But regardless of the reason, it is wholly unacceptable and wrong. [7] 

Maynard-Reid was very passionate on his point that when people discriminate against others for any reason, they are the ones sinning. When Jesus came to earth, his mission was to help the vulnerable, and he never withheld his love for them, even if he didn’t agree with their chosen lifestyle.   

Generally, as WWU has become more diverse, acts of discrimination have decreased; however, there is a small subset of people on campus who feel threatened by the diversification taking place (this isn’t a feature unique to WWU). This group of people become more aggressive (not always physically) to minority students as the size of the majority decreases. While these people are not very common, their actions have a noticeable effect on campus culture. [8] 

To help combat this, Maynard-Reid encourages students to “incarnate yourself with the people who are lowly.” Be their friend; make them part of your family. Help them know that their contribution to campus culture is welcomed and appreciated. Be like Jesus and serve people who are marginalized. [9] In the kingdom of God, there is no room for discrimination because we are all made equal at the feet of Jesus. 

*College Factual lists ethnicities as white, Hispanic/Latino, non-resident alien, Black or African American, and American Indian or Alaska Native. 

See Also

1. College Factual. Walla Walla U student population stats. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/39Xp3Pt.   

2. Interview with Pedrito Maynard-Reid. 

3. Instagram poll conducted by @aswwucollegian, 2/5,2021. 

4. Interview with Pedrito Maynard-Reid. 

5. Ibid.  

6. Ibid

7. Ibid. 

8. Ibid. 

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