Walking around the campus of Syracuse University, it is easy to see the diversity among its student’s. There are people of many different races, cultures, and religions present, and that is plain to see. I am a communication design major at Syracuse, and even within my school, the school of Visual Performing Arts, the diverse populace is still present. One look at the VPA website however, and you wouldn’t think that though. In fact, by looking at the site, you wouldn’t think that anybody actually was actually enrolled there.
When you first log onto the Visual Performing Arts website, you are greeted with a nice image of wood and vices. That, or some other close up of artsy crafty type of things. Now, the landing page is by no means ugly or inappropriate, but it doesn’t really provide a great intro to what it is that the majors of the VPA School do. It can be argued that yes, students work in these environments or create these works, but the images try to be too artistic that they don’t do these ideas any justice. Where are the students that should be working with these vices? Where are the professors that should be demonstrating how to make those pots hanging on the wall? Further investigation into the site will not answer such questions, as none of these images are present.
The fact that the site doesn’t show any images of students at work makes it hard to determine how diverse the school really is. Once again, the lack of these images makes it hard to determine if anybody actually attends these classes. What exactly does the lack of such images mean for the school? Perhaps the school doesn’t believe that it is as diverse as it should, and wants to hide that from any prospective students. As a student of VPA, I can vouch that the school is diverse, though it is still made up of a predominantly white student populace. On top of that, most students are between the ages of 18 and 22, and it can be said that there is no diversity in the age of students (though this is to be expected). As far as religion goes, the VPA student body is still quite diverse. To my personal knowledge, there are several Jewish and Muslim students enrolled with VPA, as well as numerous Christians and non-agnostic students. Once again however, you wouldn’t be able to know that by looking at the website.
Not only does the VPA website lack any significant photographic documentation of student diversity (or students in general), it is also missing written documents. The main Syracuse University website claims to offer resources for diversity on campus and within the college. However, when you arrive at the page on student diversity, you are greeted with nothing but a measly paragraph that guarantees the diversity on campus. The page offers no statistics or any insight on the matter. The main Syracuse website at least features photographs of students, and within these pictures, diversity is identifiable. More importantly, the fact that people actually attend this school is evident, which is more than can be said about the VPA homepage.
How can the college of visual performing arts show that it has a diverse student body? How can it prove that it has any student body at all? Simply by adding pictures of said student body. While it is okay to have some artistic photographs of pots and tables, people don’t go to the site to see those. Prospective students and their parents want to know if their child will feel comfortable their. How can a parent who has no experience with Syracuse University feel comfortable sending their child to a place that is populated by pottery and avante garde chairs? All joking aside, the VPA website provides a misrepresentation of it’s student body. All the site needs a few photographs of student at work, or students interacting with each other. These photographs could be essential in introducing people of diverse cultures into the already diverse student body of Syracuse University. On top of the implementation of proper photographs, the college would do well to provide statistics on its student body. While photos provide a nice visual representation, hard numbers are hard to argue. So if anybody from the web design department of Syracuse University ever reads this: add some pictures of student and some actual information on diversity to your websites.