When Diversity Drops: Race, Religion, and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
Julie J. Park
Rutgers University Press, 2013
“With clear writing, sound methodology, and compelling analysis, When Diversity Drops makes a strong argument that will be of interest to scholars of race, evangelism, campus life, and social theory.” —Paul Bramadat, University of Victoria Centre for Studies in Religion and Society
Julie J. Park examines how losing racial diversity in a university affects the everyday lives of its students. She uses a student organization, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) at “California University” as a case study to show how reductions in racial diversity impact the ability of students to sustain multiethnic communities.
The story documents IVCF’s evolution from a predominantly white group that rarely addressed race to one of the most racially diverse campus fellowships at the university. However, its ability to maintain its multiethnic membership was severely hampered by the drop in black enrollment at California University following the passage of Proposition 209, a statewide affirmative action ban.
Park demonstrates how the friendships that students have—or do not have—across race are not just a matter of personal preference or choice; they take place in the contexts that are inevitably shaped by the demographic conditions of the university. She contends that a strong organizational commitment to diversity, while essential, cannot sustain a racially diverse student subculture. Her work makes a critical contribution to our understanding of race and inequality in collegiate life and is a valuable resource for educators and researchers interested in the influence of racial politics on students’ lives.