Just the Stats: Minority Student Enrollment At Schools With High-Profile Racial Incidents - Higher Education

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Just the Stats: Minority Student Enrollment At Schools With High-Profile Racial Incidents

by Olivia Pullmann-Majesky

Some schools struggle more with their minority enrollment and graduation rates than others. I took a close look at the minority enrollment of Pennsylvania State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Why these schools? Penn State bears looking into because, among its transgressions, College Republicans reportedly planned a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game. I also wanted to see if there have been any changes following the allegations of racism leveled against Colorado’s athletic department in 2004. IUPUI was in the news recently when Black students accusing the administration of bias threatened a lawsuit unless the school hired more Black faculty and met other demands. The students ultimately secured agreements from the school to hire a diversity officer and establish a multicultural center.

Please note that these three institutions are not alone in experiencing racial tensions on campus. This column is meant to offer a snapshot of a selected group of schools. Like many others schools, these three have more work to do in terms of boosting their minority enrollment numbers and graduation rates.

Enrollment Patterns

Over the past 10 years, CU-Boulder’s minority undergraduate enrollment has remained fairly steady. In 1996, minority undergraduates represented 14.5 percent of the total student population. The number dropped in 2003 to 13.7 percent but rebounded to 15 percent in 2006.

There’s been no improvement in Black undergraduate enrollment at the campus. In 1996, there were approximately 378 Black students, making up 1.9 percent of the student body. Now, they make up 1.5 percent, with a total enrollment of 370 students. They are clearly under-represented as Blacks make up 4.3 percent of Colorado’s population, according to the 2005 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census bureau.

The overall number of Asian students has grown from 1,241 in 1996 to 1,410 currently. Asians make up 6.3 percent of the student body, but 3.2 percent of Colorado’s population. Hispanic enrollment jumped from 1,127 to 1,560 for the same time period, making them 6.4 percent of the student population. However, Hispanics make up 19.5 percent of Colorado’s population.

Table 1

Penn State’s main campus saw slight increases in its Black and Hispanic enrollments, which brought total minority enrollment to 12.5 percent of the student body, up from 11 percent in 1996. In a state where Blacks make up 10.7 percent of the population, Penn State’s Black enrollment of 4 percent, while improved over 1996, is still too low. Hispanics make up 4 percent of the state population and are slowly moving toward parity; they make up 3.1 percent of Penn State’s student body. Asians make up 5.3 percent of the student body, but 2.4 percent of the state population. 

Table 2

At IUPUI, overall Black enrollment has remained stable, as they made up 9.9 percent of the student body in 1996 and 10.1 percent today. This overall enrollment is on par with Blacks’ representation of Indiana – 9.3 percent. However, Black freshmen might be feeling increasingly isolated as their numbers have dropped substantially over the past 10 years. There has been a 34 percent decline in the number of Black freshmen between 1996 and this fall. Their share of the freshman class decreased from 11.7 percent to 8.5 percent. Hispanic numbers have almost doubled, as they now make up 3.4 percent of the student body. Still, that number means they’re under-represented because Hispanics make up 4.5 percent of Indiana’s population.

Table 3



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