It is no secret that the majority of students at Lewis & Clark are caucasian. However, this year’s first-year class is the most diverse group of students LC has ever seen. 27% of the class of 2021 are students of color, up from 16% in 2009.

This statistic combines a number of ethnicities/races: Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and students of two or more races. This statistic does not include international students or third-culture kids.

The admissions office has made various efforts to increase diversity on campus.

“We partner up with several community-based organizations, some in a formal capacity and some in an informal capacity, to develop relationships directly with these organizations and directly with students who work with these organizations so that they come across Lewis & Clark and think of it as a potential option,” Nial Rele, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment, said.

Admissions also hosts three fly-in programs for students from diverse backgrounds; there is one program in the fall and two in the spring. The fall program is science-based but still focused on students from under-represented backgrounds, while the spring programs are more general.

Throughout the application process, Admissions works with the office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME) and the Financial Aid office.

“The objective and the work that we talk about isn’t just about getting (the students) here,” Rele said. “It is also about getting them through Lewis & Clark. It is always a part of the conversation making this an affordable option for all of our students.”

IME focuses on ensuring that students of color, along with first-generation and low income students, have a smooth transition to LC.

“We are excited to have the highest number of participants at our Great Expectations Retreat and within our L.E.A.P. (Leading to Engage All Pioneers) Mentorship program that’s coming up this weekend,” Angela Buck, Interim Director of IME, said over email.

Great Expectations is a two-day retreat happening September 23 to 25. On the LC website, IME states the event’s goals as “connecting new students with returning students, as well as staff and faculty to develop a strong sense of community, providing strategies for academic success and helping to identify and take advantage of campus resources and opportunities.”

The L.E.A.P. mentorship program strives to provide students with support throughout their entire first year at L.C.

“I am very happy to hear that there is an increase in the percentage of students of color,” IME Peer Educator Emma Franco ’20 said. “I think that it is not only about seeing different faces or hearing about different nationalities, but also about how we interact them. I think that is something, as a college community, IME is there for.”

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