2023 is largest, most diverse first-year class

We are worse when we are not diverse

Dylan Stage, Reporter

In 2015 and 2018, Dr. Ryan Jerome LeCount, the Associate Professor and Chair of Hamline’s Sociology Department, began conducting a series of “diversity climate surveys,” to compile data on the impact diversity has on student outcomes. 


The purpose of these surveys is to collect data from students regarding their ethnic backgrounds, their opinions on diversity and how they view their likelihood of graduating—in order to discover how diversity impacts students, and possibly how diversity may create personal visions of success. 


After analyzing trends gathered from student’s responses, LeCount found that students from historically underrepresented groups reported they are slightly less confident they will graduate from Hamline relative to others.


He also found that these students and minoritized groups are more likely to say that diversity is important to them relative to students who are not in those groups.


“That’s my concern,” LeCount said. “One interpretation of this trend is that there is a sense among students whose identities have been historically centered that diversity is for ‘others’ [and not for themselves].”


He sees this as a cause for concern, but also as a useful signal about how Hamline might direct programming and outreach going forward, as the diversity within each of Hamline’s graduating classes is gradually increasing every year.


The class of 2021, for instance, consisted of more than 530 students and is the second largest class in Hamline’s 163-year history. 


In her interview with KARE-11 on Sept. 10, Mai Nhia Xiong-Chang, the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Hamline, discussed the demographics of Hamline’s class of 2021. 


“Our students come from 25 different states and seven countries,” Xiong-Chang said. “And 45% of students self-identify as students of color or indeigenous students.”


The class of 2023 has outshined a century’s worth of Hamline graduates, as they are both the largest and most diverse class in Hamline history.


First-year Raina Meyer shared her insight on diversity and what it means to her. “One of the reasons I chose Hamline is because of its emphasis on the importance of diversity,” Meyer said. “I have already met so many people who are different from me; racially, religiously, geographically and it’s been such an enlightening experience.”


Although she has not partaken in completing a survey, she stated that she highly intends to graduate from Hamline.


“[Diversity has] given me a new sense of appreciation of Hamline,” Meyer said, “and I feel so much pride in being a member of such a diverse student body.”


LeCount hopes to continue issuing diversity climate surveys at least every three years—the next possibly occurring in 2021.