Although undergra…

by Lucas Kunach

Although undergraduate minority student enrollment has risen 45 percent since 1992, the proportion of freshman students of color has remained the same.
Wayne Sigler, director of admissions, released the figures Thursday in a report issued to the Board of Regents. For the 1999 academic year, 843 minority students enrolled as freshmen, compared to 582 students seven years prior.
“That’s 261 more students who before, in their mind, the University wasn’t an option for,” said Patricia Jones Whyte, admissions and recruiting office associate director.
Despite the overall increase in the number of minority students enrolled, the percentage has remained steady: about 16 to 19 percent of the total student body.
This year 5,195 freshmen enrolled at the University, a 59 percent jump from 1992.
Sigler said University recruiters target minority students as well as others.
For instance, recruiters have developed a program called the “Brain-Train,” an initiative directed at Twin Cities high schools with large numbers of minority students.
Sigler distinguished between the recruiting process and the admissions process, saying race is a limited consideration in admissions.
Race can only be a factor in admissions when an applicant’s record does not meet the automatic admission standards for a particular college, Sigler said.
In such cases, the applicant’s record is reviewed individually, and many factors, including diversity, are taken into consideration, Sigler said.
The University defines diversity with respect to a prospective student’s ethnicity and gender. But, Sigler said, a student’s geographical background and exceptional talents are also considered by admissions officials.
Diversity alone does not determine admission to the University, Sigler said.
“We do not sacrifice academic standards to reach targets,” he said.
Mark Holder, president of the Africana Student Cultural Center, said he doesn’t get excited about numbers and added the University would be more attractive to minority applicants if there were more minority faculty and staff members.
Holder, a senior studying physiology, said the environment on campus has become more positive toward minorities in recent years, but can still be improved.
Amanda Shotton, a member of the Asian American Student Cultural Center, said more needs to be done to reach all students in high school, not just minorities.
There, Shotton said, the importance of higher education needs to be imparted to ensure diversity at the college level.

Lucas Kunach welcomes comments at [email protected].