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Nancy Silbergeld, "Jordon Wonders:  Do We Need Minority Students?" Kenyon College Collegian, 25 Jan. 1979, p. 2, 4.

"Race is fiction . . . human races are not pure, i.e. strictly speaking, there is no such thing as race." -- Bernard Lazare.

President Philip Jordan distinguishes two important types of diversity: diversity with regard to an individual's "interest, talents, outlook, potential, and ambitions" and diversity according to socioeconomic, racial, ethnic statues. Jordan rates the former as the most important desirable goal to establish here at Kenyon College and adds, "I think we have a considerable diversity of this sort, although racial ethnic, economic diversity can serve as a reinforcement." "Establishing common humane goals of a community and simultaneously nourishing individuality within that framework is Kenyon's aim," Jordan said. "We don't want to label students stereotypically, to say that by admitting a black student you admit a black point of view. While I favor diversity (economic, racial, ethnic) I don't think it is necessary for humaneness and sensitivity. I don't see signs that Kenyon people are unaware, unconcerned, or insensitive to social injustices," said the President.

Diversity in and of itself guarantees nothing Jordan contends, "Common humane goals may be established without it and these same goals may be lacking when diversity is present . . .  (but to some extent) groups that are entirely homogeneous can't deal with the pluralism in today's society." he adds.

"It is clear that minority students are better served when there is a reasonable representation of minority status," said Jordan. "However, admissions is a kind of matchmaking process, we select individuals by taking into account the capacity of that person to be successful, benefit from the education here and make a contribution as well," Jordan explains.

The President discussed the various factors that come into play when recruiting minorities. "Kenyon did not have notable success earlier and has less diversity to build on than other institutions. It is not so much a question of financial resources and merely putting more money into it," said Jordan. "There is a sort of paradox, every year we set aside money for "disadvantaged" students and offer generous financial aid and we have never spent all the money we have allocated because it hasn't been accepted."

"Nor is it simply a question of curriculum (offering courses which deal exclusively with minority needs). Separatist studies had a critical part in the 1960's because that subject had been ignored but now these issues are integrated into already existing (but general) courses," Jordan said.

Kenyon has problems unique to its character. "Our academic character is such that given the proportion of the Black population that would be a good match for Kenyon, we are in tough competition with other schools for students," Jordan stated. He also mentioned that, "College programs more vocational in nature may have broader appeal to many more students."

Jordan said, "We have an obligation to serve well in society and therefore a desire to introduce diversity to the college. We want to be able to admit any student regardless of need. We cannot do that now and that is a limitation. Currently we have funds sufficient to provide money for fifteen disadvantaged students. We will continue to make efforts; the situation at Kenyon is not a result of either a lack of effort or a lack of interest."

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This article is one that students in His234 "Studies in American Cultural History" selected to illustrate race relations at predominantly white colleges and universities in the Midwest. It is a transcription of the text as it appears in the digital version of the Collegian. (Note that elipses are original to the article.)  For more on race relations at Kenyon, see Black Students @ Kenyon College.

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