Older generations often criticize college students for whining about diversity.
UF Chief Diversity Officer Antonio Farias told about 35 students Tuesday night in Pugh Hall that despite the criticism, Generation Z and millennials are the most diverse generations ever.
“We are absolutely terrified of you,” he said. “You have capacity that we’ve never had.”
This was the first time Farias has publically met with students since he was hired four months ago to help the university become more inclusive for students from different races and income levels.
Even in other top 10 public universities, institutions are struggling with creating a diverse environment of professors, faculty and students who are from different backgrounds, Farias said. Only 7 percent of UF’s faculty is African American.
“When we don’t include people from all different races, we miss out on infinite potential,” he said.
Diversity leads to new ideas and ways to create a more inclusive culture, Farias said. Through his new position, he said he hopes to create a network that will allow students, faculty and administration to work together to solve problems of mistreatment with race, gender and ethnicity.
Diversity was not a concept Farias considered when growing up in the Bronx in New York City since he was constantly surrounded by different ethnicities.
“There was no such thing as a white person,” he said. “We were Puerto Rican, Irish, Mexican and much more.”
However, at the collegiate level, there is not equal representation of different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, Farias said. This is mainly due to people from lower income levels not receiving the same opportunities.
It’s more important to think about the diversity of thought, said Sarah Long, the president of the UF chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.
“It’s more important to have classrooms filled with students that think differently than look differently,” said Long, a 20-year-old UF economics junior.