If you are a white, liberal, upper class student from the Pacific Northwest or California, you will fit in here. LGBT are very welcome here. If you don't fit the above description, then you will feel uncomfortable and possibly be an outcast. Though we have a strong outdoor program, lower class students can't afford to participate, making it a rich student's club. Republicans are demonized, and centrists can be too sometimes. I've heard stories of students writing a paper with a Republican standpoint, and getting a bad grade on it because of this. International students are mostly only friends with other international students. Many lower class and minority students transfer before graduating. The classism and racism on campus isn't obvious, rather it tends to be the inadvertent kind that comes from the ignorance of the upper class of the struggles of those different from them. I can't join student clubs because I have to work 15-20 hours a week just to afford to go here. Other students can have their parents pay for everything. If you have to take out a large number of student loans just to go here, then I suggest you go to a cheaper state school.
I've worked a lot with the feminist club on campus (FACE), and I've laregly found the campus very receptive. There are so many different people here, and while EVERY different (racial, sexual orientation, ethnic, religious, etc) minority group may not be represented in spades, there are people from just about every subgroup I can think of. This feels like an odd question because at Whitman the studwents are really the clincher of the college experience. We all learn from each others' different and exciting experiences, and limiting my thoughts to different representative "groups" on campus seems to betray my experience, which has just been full of a lot of different and really great people. While here at Whitman we talk a lot about needing to become more diverse, we are, I think, more diverse than many of the other campuses I've ever seen and I think that we also have a far more comprehensive view of diversity that enriches everyone here. Could we be more diverse? Yes, but then, I think every institution could benefit from increased diversity.
Whitman's student body is very open and very diverse. There's a group or club on campus from every type of person, and all of these groups are widely supported by other types of people on campus. Whitman never feels cliquey. For example, if I were to describe four tables of students in the dining hall, there would be a wide range of people at each table. One may have someone who is really into sports eating with others who spend most of their time with theatre-related activities while someone else may be the next world-renowned biochemist. I could walk up to and sit down at practically any table in the dining hall and feel welcome. This being said, there are of course groups of people that spend more time together, just because their interests are similar or the groups they belong to are the same. I often eat in the dining hall with my sorority sisters, but that doesn't mean people who aren't in the sorority won't eat at our table--there are usually at least a few people who aren't, and they don't feel out of place.
Whitman has a fairly uniform student body. Even though there isn't a ton of diversity (most students are white, upper middle-class, liberal, non-religious, Pacific Northwesters), we do have students that come from a variety of backgrounds. I was surprised by how many international students go to Whitman. I think Whitman strives for diversity even though it's not one of the strongest areas here. On the bright side, because we are a small campus, you get to know everyone. I've met so many people here and I'm still meeting people. Even though I'm a junior, I have a ton of friends in every grade. It's very very easy to meet people, and almost everyone is friendly. I really feel like there is a Whitman community that students enjoy and take advantage of. I've heard of very few issues between students or groups, or any sort of antagonistic or negative social scene. Everyone really gets along here.
students are laid back, interesting, and bring a lot to the table. whitman students are just as comfortable studying, playing a sport, participating in campus events, or partying. Although there is not a large degree of racial diversity, that aspect is improving. Although i think it is somewhat shallow and superficial to only analyze diversity based on race/ethnic identity. The is a large degree of diversity in terms of interests, skills, backgrounds, geographic diversity, etc. Students are politically aware, especially regarding environmental issues, mostly liberal. i've never heard of one student talk about how much they are going to earn, not surprising considering there is no business school. A republican student who wants a big school atmosphere, is self centered, and does not wish to challenge themselves would be someone who would feel out of place at Whitman.
As a bisexual girl who came out during her freshman year, I can say that Whitman is very accepting. When I told my friends, they were happy for me. That might be because most kids at my school are pretty liberal, and sometimes maybe a little too P.C., or unwilling to offend. I should say that at times during my freshman year I was very frustrated by the level of complacency at my college. I struggled to find passionate, creative folk who could get pissed off when need be. It was a bit of a quest, and after a semester of active searching I did find those people, and they are here, but I should tell you it's a bit of a schlep. That said, the kids here are extremely kind, focused and intelligent. Often health-conscious, environmentally conscious, and outdoorsy. They are starters and joiners, so new projects are always cropping up all over the place.
In the past few years, Whitman has made an effort to bring more racial and socio-economic diversity to the student body, and diversity continues to grow on campus. There are a lot of white Pacific Northwest kids here, but to lump all of them into one category isn’t totally fair either. I would say that diversity of interest is what is really cool on campus. There’s a rap-activism group on campus, and a cello choir. There are trips to nearby skiing and craft club meetings. Every year, students find a way to organize their passions into activities, and the “typical” Whitman student is involved, but in what, it’s hard to say. For the most part, students tend to be fairly liberal-leaning politically, and agnostic. Conservatives and the religiously minded (especially Christians) are small, fairly soft-spoken minorities.
Students at Whitman are predominantly white (and from Washington or Oregon). That being said, there is a prominent Latino population and there are a lot of international students here, as well as a bunch of east coasters and Montanans and Californians. My freshman year roommate was from Romania! And two other girls in my section were from Mongolia and Vietnam. Whitman students, no matter their race, are an extremely open bunch of people. Admissions is really trying to diversify the student body, and I think that anyone would have no problem fitting in. The campus is very open--there's a great LGBTQ group. Students at Whitman tend to be middle to upper-middle class and fairly liberal, but there are definitely exceptions to this rule.
In general, Whitman is a very inclusive community. Although it may seem at times that the student body is largely made up of upper middle class, white students, the College is actually in the process of pushing diversity. This year's freshmen class was the most diverse class in the College's history. This means diversity in all forms - racial, ethnic, socio-economic, geographic, etc.. Students at Whitman who are the most successful socially are those who are willing to engage others and those who try new things. In my opinion, if you come to Whitman ready and eager to make new friends, you will. For, Whitties are, in general, very friendly, very socially aware, and very excited to experience new things and new people.
For the most part, the Whitman student body is pretty relaxed. Dress code is casual: shirts recommended but shoes optional (except in the dining halls). I usually think of Whitman students as the kids who were a little different, so were never the most popular in high school, but then came to Whitman and found their peers. Unicycling, fencing, and accordion-playing are all fairly common sights on campus. Most students are from the Pacific Northwest, especially Seattle and Oregon, but there's also people from all over the world. Although not known for its racial diversity, there is a black student union at Whitman, as well as an International Students and Friends Club, GLBTQ, and Allies Against Homophobia.