Does PLNU’s Student Diversity Need Improvement? Students and Faculty Share Their Thoughts

By: Madison Lasus

College campuses are not made up of one particular identity, but rather, a collection of students who have a wide spectrum of ideas, cultures, backgrounds, languages and customs. The Point spoke to students and faculty members to gain insight into whether or not they believe Point Loma Nazarene University is currently nurturing an inclusive campus, or if they need to try harder to spotlight the diversity of the student body. 

 Walter Augustine, Associate Vice President for Diversity and Belonging:

TP: Do you think there is room for improvement in terms of student diversity on campus? If so, what do you think are some ways that PLNU can work to improve it?

WA: I believe there is always room for improvement in cultivating a community of diversity and belonging for our students. The cultivation of a community is an ongoing process which is never static, but instead ebbs and flows. There are many ways that we can work to improve this community together, but one that I would encourage all of us to do is learn and explore. There are so many incredible opportunities, particularly for students, to engage with diverse people, perspectives and experiences here at Point Loma. To the extent that we are able to do this and learn from and with one another, we are able to expand our own understanding and, at the same time, cultivate a community that is attractive to others who may be looking for a place of diversity and belonging.

TP: How do you believe your specific leadership position is helping to incorporate more diversity on our college campus? 

WA: The great thing about my position is that I get to collaborate with students, staff, faculty and administration in helping to cultivate a community of both diversity and belonging at PLNU. This was evident over this past year, when I was able to work collaboratively with students, staff, faculty and administration on a number of both short-term and long-term projects which help cultivate diversity and belonging. In addition, I have been working collaboratively with students, staff, faculty and administration in the creation of a plan for diversity and belonging, which we hope to share with the PLNU community soon.

Jess Hernandez, President of the Association of Latin American Students

TP: Do you believe PLNU has cultivated a diverse community here on campus?

JH: I believe there are certain organizations on campus such as OMISS [Office of Multicultural and International Student Services] and MOSAIC [Multicultural Opportunities for Students Actively Involved in Community] that are intentional in cultivating places for diversity to flourish and be celebrated. The university as a whole, in my opinion, has a lot of work to do in making sure that people with diverse backgrounds have a voice and are genuinely loved on this campus.

TP: Do you think there is room for improvement in terms of student diversity? What do you think PLNU can do to improve it? 

JH: I believe PLNU can improve on truly listening to the experiences of people with diverse backgrounds. A big message that is taught here is to love our neighbor, but how do we do that if we do not listen to the experiences of our neighbor? How do we love people we don’t even know? I believe PLNU has created some spaces where diverse experiences are heard, but the target audience for these spaces do not include the majority of the student body.

TP: How do you believe your club is helping to incorporate more diversity into our college campus?

JH: ALAS, the Association of Latin American Students, has personally been such a transformative aspect of my time here at Point Loma. I found people that related to certain foods, music and lived experiences. I found a place to feel like home when home feels far. It has also given me the confidence to walk into any room and be proud to be Latina. I hope that ALAS and all the MOSAIC infinity groups bring the same sense of community and belonging for many students on this campus. I want people to be able to have a space in which they can truly be themselves and create community with other people on this campus. 

Tori Bustria, First-year Education major: 

TP: Do you believe PLNU has cultivated a diverse community here on campus?

TB: This is not true because there are clubs dedicated to minorities, but it feels separated, and it needs to be worked on. Minorities are apparent, you can see them, but you don’t really hear from them. It’s like we are the silent population, which has been the pattern throughout history because they have been the outliers who worked so hard to not get in trouble. And that feels the same here. We could be doing more for minorities and we need to find more ways to be inclusive without singling them out.

TP: What do you think PLNU can do to improve this?

TB: We should push that it is okay to go to the minority-based clubs even if you are not a part of the minority specifically. We can encourage minorities to apply to the school. There are not a lot of minorities who want to apply here because they know how much of a white demographic it is. A school shouldn’t be known as “only for a specific type of person.” All people are welcome, even if there is a bigger population of a certain race group. Our campus shouldn’t be known as a home for specifically white people, but rather as a good university for people to go to. This would push that we need a more diverse demographic. Also, we can have more scholarships directed toward minorities. We could have more scholarships for specific race groups. Other schools are doing this too, so we could definitely be doing this as well. 


Based on the data from Fall 2023, 46.9% of PLNU students are ethnically diverse, while 53.1% of students are considered non-diverse. With 29.8% representing Hispanic students, 7.2% representing multirace students, 6.4% representing Asian American students, 2.7% representing African American students, 0.4% representing Native American students, and 0.4% representing Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students. This is consistent with our diversity rates from 2022, however, it has decreased from 2021 by .1%. 

PLNU is currently opening up applications for their Diversity Leadership Scholarship, established by the Office of Multicultural & International Student Services in 2004. Interested students are able to apply for the 2024-2025 school year until Feb. 4 (for current students) and March 1 (for incoming freshman and transfer students). Applicants are notified April 1 about the results. This scholarship is for students who have leadership roles in diversity programs on campus. It is intended to provide for students who display great interest in multicultural and racial justice. Requirements vary by grade level, and good academic standing of a 3.0 GPA and one letter of recommendation are required. More details can be found on the PLNU website.