The issue of diversity can be a contentious one at Gustavus. Admissions tries to get not only economic and ethnic diversity, but also students from outside of Minnesota. Students know that there are organizations and offices to advance religious, ethnic, or political minority awareness, and surprisingly—despite most of the campus being white, middle class, and Protestant—these groups are popular and attract a crowd. The issue of diversity at Gustavus is in the eye of the beholder: For many students who come from small towns, the campus seems diverse. For those hailing from big cities, it’s a complete sea of sameness.
Diversity can be looked at in many ways, but the usual approach is through race or religion. The usual critique is that so many students are white, Minnesotan, and Protestant. Historically, being that Gustavus is an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) college founded by Swedish immigrants, it makes sense that this is the majority of students. However, Gustavus is quite aware of this criticism and works to attract minorities and support them once they arrive. Whether they're from Senegal, are Jewish, or are the first in their family to attend college, Gustavus takes its responsibility very seriously to help minority students feel comfortable and safe. Gustavus gives them the ability to completely assimilate into the student majority or to embrace their difference and proudly stand out. Don't be surprised if your roommate is gay, atheist, or Vietnamese.