Bulldog Days programs, events highlight diversity

Thanh Nguyen climbed on Connecticut Limo yesterday to head toward his future. The Houston native sat down next to Hector Silva, a Floridian also heading to Bulldog Days. Both pre-frosh are fairly certain they’ll attend Yale because they like the academics, the college life and because they think the University offers a diverse student body.

About 700 pre-frosh arrived in New Haven Tuesday to scope out Yale. Admitted students attended academic and extra-curricular bazaars and panels on residential college life, met up with their hosts and checked out Yale’s social life. Many pre-frosh said they will place great emphasis on student diversity when they decide whether or not to attend Yale.

Admissions brochures at many colleges and universities stress student diversity as an important component of the undergraduate experience. About 42 percent of students in Yale’s admitted Class of 2005 are of color, but not all admitted students will chose to come. About 29 percent of students who actually joined Yale’s Class of 2003, for example, identified themselves as minorities.

By coincidence, both Nguyen and Silva, who parted ways on Old Campus Tuesday afternoon, ended their days on Crown Street next door to each other: Nguyen at the Asian American Cultural Center and Silva at La Casa Cultural. The cultural centers hosted gatherings for pre-frosh to meet current Yalies. La Casa’s night ended with a karaoke party.

Nguyen stood near Annop Patel, a pre-frosh from West Orange, N.J., who marvelled at the gathering.

“Even here within the Asians, there is diversity,” Patel said. “I don’t know what the actual numbers are, but I feel like I’m surrounded by people of all different backgrounds.”

Silva at La Casa said Yale seems to encourage diversity by espousing an open attitude towards all people. He recently visited Duke University, where he noted that students seemed to be nearly “segregated” by which housing options they could afford.

Many minority students attending Bulldog Days said they are impressed by Yale’s diversity. At a gathering at the Afro-American Cultural Center last night, K.C. Osuji enjoyed performances by current Yalies and meeting other pre-frosh.

“I’ve met people from all over the place,” said Osuji, who hails from Bronx, N.Y. “It seems like there’s something for everyone.”

Many admitted students pointed to Yale’s urban location as another way to increase the variety of people they will meet during their time at Yale.

Taiwo Stanback, a Memphis, Tenn. resident, said New Haven and its residents are actually what makes Yale diverse. Other students pointed to city outreach as an attraction of Yale.

“One of the draws of New Haven is that there are a lot of opportunities to make a difference,” said Megan Schuller, a Delaware resident who hopes to tutor young kids in New Haven.

Some students wondered how many of the minority admits were among the 700 pre-frosh attending Bulldog Days. Tony Cotto ’03 said about half of the ten Hispanic admits he called as part of a La Casa phone-a-thon told him they wouldn’t be attending the pre-orientation days because they didn’t have the money to come.

The director of the Latino cultural center, Richard Chavolla, said instead of focusing on how many students could not attend, he is now concentrating on what the center can do to get pre-frosh who are on campus this week to attend Yale.

“I would always like to see more students of color at Yale and coming to Bulldog Days,” Chavolla said. “But we have to focus on what’s going on here. There’s a lot going on for [students that could attend].”

Many of the cultural centers will hold open houses this afternoon.

Reminiscing about his own Bulldog Days experience, Luis Medina ’04 said the event at La Casa is a great chance for minority students to enjoy Yale.

“I met so many of the people [at Bulldog Days] and eventually became friends with them this year,” Medina said. “Diversity does make a difference.”

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