Diversity has long been the watchword in college admissions, and among elite schools in particular. Yet as Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt writes, diversity advocates tend to focus on race and ethnicity to the exclusion of differences in class and culture. Reinhardt, whose son graduated from Princeton and joined the Marine Corps in 2001, notes with dismay that the school currently has just four veterans out of a campus of 5,249 undergraduates and 2,610 graduate students. Veterans, whatever their skin color, bring a dramatically different perspective to campus:
Imagine what can be contributed by someone with notions of honor, solidarity and selfless service rarely encountered in the civilian world.Imagine what insight might be had from someone who has had to work with people of a foreign culture, often under trying conditions.And imagine what distinct moral perspectives could be offered in a seminar on ethics, on the University’s discipline committee or in a dean’s office by someone who may have had to make profoundly troublesome ethical choices under fire, in split seconds.
If Reinhardt is right, colleges that do more outreach to this group of potential students could bring a more substantive kind of diversity to their campus communities.