Recent research conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in conjunction with the Ford Foundation has determined that a diverse student population increases academic performance, improves student retention/satisfaction, and assists with on-campus socialization. Additionally, Colleges and Universities with greater diversity receive increased public funds and enjoy a more attractive public perception. Most schools promote their statistics regarding diversity on their websites, and independent organizations, like US News, track this information also.
Given the importance of diversity to the educational experience at post-secondary schools, the Diversity Project documents a subset of the student populations at all of the major Colleges and Universities in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and compares them to one another. The project is conducted by my visiting a public area on each campus, at noon on a typical school day, and asking everyone who passes by to pose for a quick portrait. For each school, this process is completed after one hour, and then fifty of the resulting images are selected, representing the most diverse blend of students. Each block of fifty is presented in a grid, so that the schools can be compared. The published diversity data is included below the grid, and can contradict the photographic findings.
St. Louis has had a long history of conflict and friction among peoples of differing ethnic/cultural backgrounds, which has shaped the very landscape of the region. Given that students in area colleges represent the future economic and political prospects for the city, it is important to analyze how these schools are forming or not forming diverse communities upon their campuses.
Saint Louis Community College at Forest Park: