A national poll on diversity in higher education conducted by DYG Inc. for the Ford Foundation’s Campus Diversity Initiative found that 2 of 3 U.S. citizens feel that it is “very important” for colleges to prepare students for a diverse society. The poll was conducted by telephone this summer on a sample group of 2,011 registered voters and has a 2.2% margin of error.
Fifty-five percent agreed that studying an unknown culture should be an academic requirement and more than seventy-five percent said that diversity programs raise, and not lower, academic standards. Sixty-six percent said that colleges should take steps to increase student diversity, and seventy-five percent -four percent agreed with the statement, “The nation’s growing diversity makes it more important than ever for all of us to understand people who are different than ourselves.” Seventy-one percent thought that diversity programs help to bring our multi-cultural society together, while only 19 percent thought that diversity programs drive people apart.
Ford Foundation Vice President Alison R. Bernstein said, “This poll shows that, despite the heated public debate over diversity, Americans are very clear in their views.” Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said “Higher education fulfills a need by creating spaces where people from diverse backgrounds learn from and with one another. Diversity challenges educators and students alike to reexamine our most fundamental assumptions. Above all, diversity asks us to address the links between education and a developed sense of responsibility to one another.”
Separate analyses of the same data from individual states including Arizona, California, Georgia, and Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee were also released today.