Interview with Jarrid Whitney about Indian student recruitment

Diverse Issues in Higher Education interviews Jarrid Whitney about Indian student recruitment. Whitney, who is Cayuga from the Six Nations Reserve in Canada, is the director of undergraduate admissions at the California Institute of Technology.

"DI: What “best practices” can colleges use to retain American Indian students?

JW: Students who are culturally connected with their people prioritize the tribal calendar above academics. They attend the tribe’s winter blessing and feast days no matter what’s scheduled on a school syllabus. Professors need to let them take exams on days that don’t conflict with cultural activities. That said, students should tell professors and diversity officers of these activities well in advance. Students without much cultural connection won’t likely miss class, but they often want to learn about their heritage. If the campus has no American Indian program, the diversity center should support their interest.

Just because there isn’t an Indian administrator doesn’t mean people don’t want to help you.

DI: Six Nations Cayuga doesn’t have a reservation in New York, so how did you learn about your heritage growing up?

JW: We drove to the reservation in Ontario for seasonal events and the annual powwow. My mom wanted to expose my brother and me to the culture; she lived on a reservation as a young girl."

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