Diversity is a hallmark of 21st century society and increasing globalization. Sometimes a source of tension and conflict for individuals or groups, diversity has the potential to expand our perspectives and enrich our lives. The University recognizes this potential and thus strives to create a climate in which diversity is not simply respected, but fully appreciated.
This begins with developing awareness of oneself and others as diverse beings, people who vary across a number of bio-psychosocial dimensions. These include: race, ethnicity, and regional differences; religion and spirituality; social class; gender; sexual orientation; and one's unique family, as well as physical and emotional characteristics. Cultivating this awareness is recognized as an important part of one's personal and professional development.
Conceptualizing cultural identity development in terms of stages that are visited and re-visited can be helpful in understanding oneself and others. The first stage is often described in the counseling literature (Ivey, 2001) as naiveté, or little awareness of oneself or others as cultural beings. The next stage may be described as that of encounter. This stage is characterized by initial recognition of oneself or others as cultural beings as the result of an event or an experience. The third stage is referred to as naming. "Naming encompasses processing the recognition of a bio-psychosocial difference and naming it or its impact." The stage following naming is identified as reflection. "Reflection is a stage or state that involves processing one's thoughts and feelings. The final stage is called multi-perspective internalization." Simply this stage encompasses an ability to appreciate multiple perspectives. At this stage one experiences pride in oneself and respect and appreciation for others, and their perspectives as shaped differently and according to a unique set of bio-psychosocial features.
Developing appreciation for oneself and others is part of forming an adult identity. It involves developing one's own set of values, and diversity issues often play an important role in this process. Adjusting to college life and a new environment can be challenging. Feeling as though one does not fit in may result from a sense of self as different, or others perceptions' of and reactions to difference. In addition to being troubling, feeling like one does not fit in can lead to difficulties in self-esteem, role functioning, and building social support networks.
The Counseling Center can be a resource for students in many ways. Whether a student is interested in exploring feelings related to their own cultural background or someone else's, or needs support coping with concerns around diversity issues, the staff at the center can help. Some examples of issues the center can help with:
• Ethnic, minority and/or international student concerns.
• Sexual orientation issues or sexual harassment.
• Abstinence from alcohol.
• Status as an independent (from the Greek System).
• Differences in political, religious or spiritual beliefs.
• Stress, embarrassment, or feeling different due to socioeconomics.
Other online and campus resources for diversity issues may be found at:
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities