Creating a diverse environment in college settings has been a challenge that universities constantly try to tackle. There is an obvious disparity between the number of whites and minorities at the collegiate level, and the solution as to how to solve this problem is the subject of much controversy and debate.
Recently, a group of students from UCLA brought additional attention to the issue when it filmed a video titled “The Black Bruins,” pointing out the lack of African-American students attending the university. The statistics given in the video, which were from 2012, stated that there were only a total of 660 African-American males attending the school, 65 percent of them being student-athletes. Perhaps even worse was only 48 out of the incoming 2,418 male freshmen that year were African-American.
The video reflects a serious problem in the United States. The United States Census Bureau in 2010 states that only 18% of African-Americans above the age of 25 had a bachelor’s degree or higher. It’s a sad statistic, especially since African-Americans account for more than a tenth of the nation’s population.
However, it isn’t just African-Americans who are underrepresented in the nation’s universities. Many minority groups have incredibly low enrollment numbers, not just in California, but throughout the country. A more active approach needs to start being taken in order to improve the diversity in institutions of higher learning.
After watching this video, I thought it would be interesting to find out exactly how diverse Illinois State University is. According to Illinois State’s own website, only 18.2% of the student population is a minority. This makes us not nearly as diverse as some other state schools, such as Southern Illinois-Carbondale and Northern Illinois University.
That being said, Illinois does have a higher population of African-Americans than UCLA. According to Forbes, which compiled enrollment statistics for many of the nation’s universities, 6.01% of the 2012 student population was African-American. Given what ISU’s total enrollment numbers are, this translates to about 1,281 African-Americans at Illinois State. Better, but not by much. This is very much a school that could see an increase in diversity.
The good news is, ISU seems to be improving. President Flanagan spoke in his State of the University address about the growing number of minorities in our incoming freshman class. Flanagan stated that 26% of the freshman class came from minority groups, including a 27% increase in African-American freshmen. This is a trend that will hopefully continue.
Nick Ulferts is a junior English education major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.