Throughout this path, I have explored how the school has become more diverse since Riley Temple’s freshman year in 1968, when there were no women, about ten black men, and no out members of the LGBTQ+ community. Since then, women have been admitted to the school. More people of color, as well as more international students and students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, have also been admitted. There is now a visible presence of LGBTQ+ students at the college, both as individuals who are out, as well as the presence of student groups like Quest, QPOC (Queer People of Color) and PALM (the Pride Association for Leadership & Mentoring program). This visibility, however, is not complete, nor does it mean that homophobia and transphobia no longer exist.
For example, recently, a friend of mine overheard a conversation at one of the dining halls where four male students were talking about the fact that “there were no homosexuals at this school” and one stated that “if I saw a homosexual student I would punch them in the face.” Another stated “unless she was a lesbian, and then I would fix that.” This conversation happened less than 100 feet away from the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which is probably the most visible space for LGBTQ+ students on campus. Although these students are likely a minority in terms of the attitudes and perceptions of the student body, clearly, the visible diversity at Lafayette is not as complete as we would like to believe, and homophobia still has a foothold.
The increasing of diversity at Lafayette has, in some ways, had major positive impacts. It provides spaces for marginalized students, and reminds people that they are not alone, while also decreasing the pressure on individuals to represent their entire community and creating an atmosphere of greater acceptance. It does not, however, totally deconstruct the existence of prejudice or discrimination on campus, and it runs the risk of cloaking some of these issues. Moving forward, it is incredibly important that Lafayette College continues to be a more diverse institution, both in terms of identities that I have discussed in this path, as well as a multitude of other identities and forms of marginalization such as, to name only a few, religion, ability, neurodiversity, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. However, this increase in diversity is not enough, and it is important for the school to not only bring in more marginalized students, but to make changes, on every level, to make these marginalized students safe and welcome.