College admissions advisor and educational consultant Mark Montgomery talks about Bates College‘s ethos of diversity and tolerance. Even before the American Civil War ended, Bates opened its doors to blacks and other minorities, as well as women. This welcoming spirit continues to this day.
One of the other things that I found were interesting about Bates is the history matters. History matters with a lot of these colleges and Bates is very different from most of the other New England colleges in that it was set up by Free Will Baptists. And the Free Will Baptists were committed to ensuring that Bates was a campus that would be welcoming, not only to the local community and to America’s elite, but also to women, so it was the first college in New England to accept women and also other minorities, including blacks. This was set up before the end of the Civil War, and from the very beginning they accepted freed slaves into the campus community.
So why does that matter? Well, it’s part of the ethos. It’s part of the way that Bates thinks about itself and presents itself and projects itself into the world, that this is a progressive learning community. It’s an intentional community that has always been diverse, that has always been accepting of people of every stripe, including every religious background, every socioeconomic class, every ethnic background.
So that is just one of the core principles at this college that does set apart a little bit. Everybody’s going to talk about how they’re into being welcoming and tolerant and accepting, and of course that’s part of the American reality today. But Bates has walked the walk from the beginning of its history whereas some of the Ivy League schools, well, all of the Ivy League schools. And many other elite small colleges in New England just didn’t begin that way. So that’s an important part of Bates’ history to keep in mind.