Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is Diversity important at Providence College?
A: As a Catholic Dominican liberal arts college, we are committed to reflecting the diversity of the global church on our campus. The on-going legacy of the Catholic Church is the unique ability to contextualize the Christian faith and Catholic practice within other cultures. Thus diversity is about who we are as the people of God and as we look towards a shared future in our society, we are excited about imagining the possibilities and promise of the diversity that enrich our lives.
Simply put, diversity is biblical, essential and about community. We exhort all to take initiative and have the courage along with faith and goodwill to meaningfully interact and build relationships with those who differ. It also means taking time to understand oneself and discover the diversity that encompasses each individual and as a community. Over time one realizes how much people have in common yet without ever minimizing the unique ways God has shaped each one.
Diversity is Biblical - We believe that the call to be a diverse community is rooted in scripture and evident in God's creation.
“There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the lamb.”
“God saw all that he had made and it was very good.”
Diversity is about Community - We believe that diversity can only be expressed in community where we are sharing our distinct gifts, experiences and perspectives.
“There are different kinds of gifts...The body is a unit, though it is made of many parts...if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it...”
1 Cor. 12:4-31
Diversity is Essential - We believe that we most effectively contribute to and benefit from a globalized society by learning practical skills that allow us to work, worship and live well and wisely in our diverse world.
“A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.”
Q: What do you mean by Cultural Competence?
A: In a global and diverse society, cultural competence is necessary to contribute in meaningful and valuable ways in the workplace, religious communities, schools and neighborhoods. Having the awareness, knowledge, and skills to address cultural issues and realities with someone who is culturally different from yourself is crucial. Having the awareness, knowledge, and skills to address cultural issues with someone who is culturally similar is just as crucial.
Cultural awareness constitutes those values, attitudes, and assumptions essential to living, working and serving with peers who are culturally different from you are. Self-awareness, or the ability to be aware of those values, attitudes, and assumptions, is a significant aspect of cultural awareness. Without such self-evaluation, you may not realize that you hold inaccurate or inappropriate views of a particular culture in the form of stereotypes, biases, or culturally based assumptions. For multicultural development to continue, it is important to challenge misinformation and correct erroneous assumptions and beliefs.
Cultural knowledge consists of the content knowledge about various cultural groups that is typically not taught in school. To be culturally competent, it is vital to be intentional to gather information and to learn about important cultural constructs such as racial identity and acculturation, and how these constructs influence perspectives, attitude and behavior.
Cultural skills consist of those behaviors that allow you to effectively apply the multicultural awareness and knowledge you have internalized. Central to those skills is the ability to communicate across cultures and understand how culture influences the content as well as the verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication. Without a foundation of cultural awareness and knowledge, it is difficult to make culturally sensitive and appropriate action.
(Modified from Multicultural Competence in Student Affairs by Pope, Reynolds and Mueller, 2004)
Q: What is Inclusive Excellence?
A: As defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), Inclusive Excellence consists of four essential elements:
1. A focus on student intellectual and social development. Academically, it means offering the best possible course of study for the context in which the education is offered.
2. A purposeful development and utilization of organizational resources to enhance student learning. Organizationally, it means establishing an environment that challenges each student to achieve academically at high levels and each member of the campus to contribute to learning and knowledge development.
3. Attention to the cultural differences learners bring to the educational experience and that enhance the enterprise.
4. A welcoming community that engages all of its diversity in the service of student and organizational learning.
Q: How does the Student Multicultural Activities Office fit in at the college?
A: The Student Multicultural Activities Office is under the Student Affairs Division and was created as a new unit in 2010. Previously it was called the Balfour Center for Multicultural Affairs under Academic Affairs with a focus on supporting Multicultural Scholarship Program (MSP) scholars.
The Student Multicultural Activities supports the college’s commitment to diversity which “recognizes the unity of the human family that proceeds from its one Creator. It therefore encourages the deepest respect for the essential dignity, freedom, and equality of every person and welcomes qualified women and men from all religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Providence College prepares its students to be responsible and productive citizens to serve in their own society and the greater world community” by creating programs and organizing activities to educate students about the value of diversity value of diversity as well as deepen their understanding of historical prejudice and bias in the United States as it impacts our institutions and interpersonal relationships.
Q: Whom does the Student Multicultural Activies Office serve?
A: We have an “and/both” approach as we serve students. There are programs geared towards students from underrepresented groups such as the Horizons retreat. Other programs, activities and all leadership opportunities are open to any registered student at Providence College.
Q: What is the Multicultural Scholarship Program and who may apply for it?
A: The Multicultural Scholarship Program is administered through the Admissions Office and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies. It was created to encourage an academic community that is rich in cultural diversity. It is open to students of all backgrounds. Please contact Admissions
for more information.
Q: Does Providence College have an affirmative action policy or program to increase its diversity? Are all students of color recipients of affirmative action policies or programs?
A: No, we do not have an affirmative action policy or program. All students of color meet the same standards for admission and have the same expectations for success at Providence College. The college employs a variety of strategies to increase its presence in different communities so it is more known and understood as a viable option for academic study and service.
Q: Why does Providence College use racial, ethnic and cultural categories on their admissions application?
A: The U.S. government created these categories for demographic purposes. We request this information from students so we may have an accurate picture of the diversity at Providence College. Students may choose to self-identify with any, all or none of the categories.
Q: Why does the Student Multicultural Activities Office use the term "students of color" and "underrepresented groups"?
A: The term "students of color" is the common and current usage in higher education whether in academic research, courses or student services. As such we use the term as it is used consistently on most campuses. We recognize the limitation of any one term to describe the complexities of a group of people. We also acknowledge the confusion that comes from the word "color" knowing that adding "ed" makes it a historically inappropriate term.
Some colleges and universities use the acronym ALANA, which stands for "African, Latino, Asian, Native American" or AHANA for African, Hispanic, Asian, Native American. You may also hear the word “multicultural” or “diversity” to describe students of color. For BOMA we choose not to use these acronyms recognizing that there are students of color of multiracial heritage. We also choose not to use "diversity,” “multicultural,” or "ethnic minority" as we believe that all students are of diverse backgrounds that may include disability, socioeconomic, gender and sexuality and have family heritages that are ethnically rooted in the United States or in other countries.
As a reminder, Hispanic or Latino/a is a cultural identity, not a racial term. That is, a person who is White, African-American or Asian can be Hispanic or Latino/a.
We also use the term "underrepresented groups" acknowledging that underrepresentation may occur in a variety of ways depending on social context. We seek representation to promote creativity and to enrich relationships.
Q: How do I describe a person's ethnic, racial and/or cultural identity?
A: Since each person or group uses different descriptors, we encourage you to ask the person about his or her preference. Due to historical, regional or family differences, a person may prefer one term or another. Our stance is to allow others self-identify themselves in whatever ways that it is meaningful for them. We believe this attitude of Christ-like sensitivity goes a long way in building relationships. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Do not act out of selfish ambition or self-conceit but with humility think of others better than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3, Int'l Std. Version)
Q: How many students of color are on campus?
A: As of this spring semester of 2011, 12.2% or 135 freshmen self-identified as students of color, and the total number of undergraduate students of color is 10.1%. Read Institutional Research reports
for more information.
Q: How many international students are there?
A: As of this spring semester of 2011, just over 1% or 14 freshmen are international students (non-resident aliens) and a total number of undergraduate international students is 55 or a little over 1%. Read Institutional Research reports
for more information.
Q: How many faculty of color do we have at Providence College? How many women faculty? How many international faculty? Below is a chart of faculty of color and international faculty.
A: As of this fall semester in 2011, 11% of our full-time faculty are persons of color, 9% are international (non-resident alien) and 17.6% are women. Read Institutional Research reports
for more information.
Q: What kind of leadership opportunities are available in the Student Multicultural Activties Office?
A: Students may apply for to be a coordinator or mentor for the Horizons Retreat, to be a coordinator or mentor for the Peer Mentor Program or be part of the MLK Day of Service Coordination Team. Find out more at their pages on this website.
Q: Are White students allowed to participate in programs and leadership in the Student Multicultural Activities Office?
Q: What is B.M.S.A.?
A: BMSA stands for the Board of Multi-cultural Student Affairs and it is a student-led organization under SAIL (Student Activities) that serves to bring cultural awareness to the PC campus. BMSA has over ninety student leaders and hosts some of the most well-attended events on campus.
BMSA functions as the umbrella organization that oversees clubs such as Afro-Am, ArmS (Armenian Society), Asian-Am, Circolo Italiano, Fete Francaise, Gaelic Society, Hellenic, MESA (Middle-Eastern Student Association), OLAS (Organization of Latin American Students), and PALS (Portuguese Alliance of Lusophone Students).
SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism), ISO (International Students Organization), and S.H.E.P.A.R.D. (Stopping Homophobia, Eliminating Prejudices And Restoring Dignity) are affiliated organizations with BMSA.