Central encourages diversity around Ellensburg


Tera Stenhouse, Staff Reporter

About 10,000 students call Ellensburg home, but many feel as though they don’t always belong.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Ellensburg is not necessarily known for its diversity. In 2013, the population consisted of 85.7 percent Caucasian, 9.7 percent Hispanic or Latino, 3.2 percent Asian and 1.5 percent African American.

Central, however, has made strides to increase diversity in their enrollment numbers. The Department Chair of Sociology, Kandee Clearly, said they increased minority population within this year’s freshman class.

“Twenty-five percent of this year’s first year students are Latino or Latina,” Clearly said.

Clearly said another factor that plays into diversity at Central is the size of the town.

“Ellensburg is a farming community, and the size of the valley is small,” Clearly said. “Rural places tend to be less diverse.”

Diversity doesn’t just have to do with enrollment numbers at Central. Creating awareness of different ethnic backgrounds as well as different identities plays a role in acceptance.

Garrett Nelson, senior psychology major, said getting involved with Equality through Queers and Allies (EQuAl) helped him with his experience.

“I first began my involvement in EQuAl when I was a sophomore here at CWU,” Nelson said. “I was very unaware of the LGBT civil rights struggles in today’s society, as well as on our campus, and EQuAl gave me the chance to create change on our campus, as well as to educate myself for the future.”

To make Central a more diverse campus, Nelson said students need to be educated more on the issue and to also be exposed to more diverse faculty.

“We need to challenge our students, staff and faculty to think differently and educate themselves,” Nelson said. “ It is so often that you see no one call out their peers or officials for saying something they shouldn’t. This lack of diversity in our professors is another reason why our ways of thinking as students are not challenged enough.”

Jonece Tallant, senior public relations major, comes from a family with two very different ethnic backgrounds; Tallant’s parents are Caucasian and African-American. She said this has helped her be more accepting of people.

“It hasn’t affected me as much as maybe in high school,” Tallant said. “It’s definitely made me more accepting of a lot of people because I have a background from two very different backgrounds.”

Tallant said having a more diverse faculty would increase the numbers, encouraging a more diverse student body.