This past year was quite eventful for college campuses, with students of color exercising their frustration with the racial climate of their universities in the form of protests.
And a survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed found that many historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), are seeing a surge in enrollment in response to the discrimination.
According to the survey’s researchers, less than 25 percent of college and university professors thought race relations on campuses other than their own were good or excellent during the 2015-16 school year. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed believed race relations on their own campuses were just fine.
“Freshman enrollment is up 49 percent at Shaw University, 39 percent at South Carolina State, 32 percent at Tuskegee University, 30 percent at Virginia State University, 22 percent at Dillard University, 22 percent at Central State University, 20 percent at Florida Memorial University, and 19 percent at Delaware State University,” Dillard University President Walter M. Kimbrough wrote in an article published on The Washington Post’s website. “Dillard, Philander Smith College (overall enrollment up 29 percent) and South Carolina State University all rely on overflow housing to accommodate the influx of students.”
This past year was marked by numerous high-profile protests at colleges and universities across the country. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, students demanded that curators work to change the climate on campus. As a result, the Concerned Student 1950 movement was born, and University President Tim Wolfe stepped down.
The University of Mississippi saw its own uprising when students won the removal of the Mississippi state flag from campus grounds.
And now, California State University’s Black student population is gearing up for their own fight for justice and equality.
“The past year has been a great reminder for families as they prepare to select a college,” Kimbrough continued. “Ask yourself what is important to you, and then find an institution that is a great fit for you. If learning from Black faculty is important, going to a place where they are less than 5 percent makes little sense. If a curriculum that uses diverse points of view is a factor, attending an institution driven by the Great Books will create disappointment. If having a residential experience with students who look like you is important, attending a school where you see more Black students on brochures than on a campus tour is a recipe for problems.”
Nearly half of those surveyed expressed explicit commitments from college and university leaders to “diversify” their campuses. Yet a deeper analysis of the various responses reveals that, in many cases, commitment functioned as a way for institutions to distance themselves from the racial conflict taking place elsewhere and/or deny racial tension on their own campus, the survey found.
For example, when hundreds of students gathered to raise awareness about racism on Columbia University’s campus, its president declared in an email sent to the campus community that the university’s commitment to race relations and inclusion was, “deep.”
Click here for a full summary of the survey’s findings.