Diversity, Defined

by Tara Subramaniam

“Community in Diversity.” One of Georgetown’s oft-touted Jesuit values, the phrase is often mentioned by the university to entice prospective students. Students may catch a glimpse of it on a banner around campus in their day-to-day hustle or in the university’s promotional materials.  

Behind the flashy catchphrase, the question remains: What does it actually mean to be a community in diversity?

From an admissions perspective, of the 1,633 students in the Class of 2021, 227 are Asian, 183 Hispanic and a record 172 are black. Together, they make up 35.6 percent of the class — while nearly two-thirds of students, 64.4 percent, are white. By comparison, white students make up 58 percent of all college students nationwide.

This disproportionality is not limited to race. According to a study by The Equality of Opportunity Project published by The New York Times in 2017, the median income for a parent of a student in Georgetown’s Class of 2013 was $229,100, the 8th highest of the 2,395 U.S. colleges surveyed. More students at Georgetown come from families in the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent combined.

Despite the university’s efforts, challenges remain in promoting a true community in diversity — one that fosters a sense of inclusion for those of traditionally marginalized socio-economic, racial and sexual backgrounds. The numbers tell one story, but the students tell another.

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