The CHronicle’s View: Minority enrollment bump essential for U

By and

Over the past 20 years, the number of minority students enrolling in colleges and universities nationally has risen an astonishing 122 percent, from 2 million students in 1980 to 4.3 million in 2001.

At the U, the numbers are rising as well-however slowly.

In 1980, 4.6 percent of students at the U were minorities, and while the national numbers have grown at nearly exponential rates, the U’s minority numbers have only increased to 7.5 percent-a measly 3 percent increase compared to the 122 percent jump nationally.

But while the U’s diversity population may be growing at a much slower rate than elsewhere, it is still growing.

In fact, all minority groups-except for American Indians/Alaskans, whose numbers have dropped 0.1 percent in 20 years-have gained ground on campus.

Consider this: In the 1977 78 school year, 1.5 percent of the student population was classified by a U analysis report as being Asian/Pacific Islander. In the 2002-03 school year, those numbers are up to 3.1 percent. Similarly, Hispanic students have increased their campus numbers from 1.7 percent to 3.2 percent and black students have maintained the same enrollment levels (somewhere between 0.5 and 0.6 percent) for two decades.

American Indians/Alaskans have dropped from 0.7 percent to 0.6 percent.

Possibly the most striking aspect of these enrollment numbers is not that they all seem to be increasing-which is a beneficial and hopeful trend-but rather that the numbers are still so paltry.

Only 0.6 percent of students are American Indians/Alaskans? Only 0.5 to 0.6 percent of students are black?

That is simply unacceptable.

Diversity is often a promoted and applauded endeavor at the U. Outgoing U President Bernie Machen was very outspoken in his want to increase minority student numbers and was, to a respectable extent, successful in his efforts. It is imperative that incoming U officials continue and further the diversity process.

Utah is a wealth of diversity. Represented in its population are a sizable Hispanic community, a socially active Pacific Islander community and a religiously distinct amalgam of Rocky Mountain enthusiasts.

Utah is home to residents of all socioeconomic levels and the U needs to get serious about the recruitment of minority students within the state.

Much of the U’s minority population comes from out of state, and active participation in high school programs will help the U get its name out there to future students of both of minority and non minority status.

Scholarships like the Utah Opportunity Scholarship and other programs aimed at courting prospective minority students have been successful in the past, and their continuation will prove to be vital to the ultimate failure or success of the U as a diverse campus.