Number of black first-years falls

Living and studying in a diverse community is an important part of campus life.

Universities across the country have noticed a decline in first-year black students. The University has seen a slight decline in enrollment – approximately 2 percent – but has not been affected as harshly by this factor as many other large public universities. Some other schools have seen a ridiculous fall of approximately 30 percent.

The largest factor contributing to this problem is that the education many black students receive in struggling urban high schools does not include the same opportunities other students get, leaving less access to college. Unfortunately, the economic status of many black families means that living in the city and attending dilapidated schools is the only option.

But even black families that are moving to the suburbs might find it difficult to send would-be students to college. Their families’ higher socio-economic status makes it harder to get need-based aid. But it is still difficult to afford college for any family, and with the steadily increasing costs of a college education, it will continue to be less affordable.

At the University, one reason for the relatively small population of first-year black students, only 18.4 percent, is because compared to other major metropolitan areas, there isn’t as large a black population in the Twin Cities or Minnesota.

Whatever the reason behind the decline of black first-year students, it is simply unacceptable. Policies that make it hard for middle-class and working families unable to receive a large amount of funding are also making universities unable to create richly diverse communities. A very important part of campus life involves living among a diverse community, just as diversity in the classroom improves discussions and debates. The slight drop in the black student population negatively affects this opportunity for all students.

Universities, including this one, should do whatever is necessary to keep the number of black students steady across the nation. It is legal for universities to use race as a factor in determining admissions, and they should do so. Extra funding would be needed to help create a more affordable education for middle-class families through financial aid, and governments should focus more on creating better opportunities for black students before education at the university level.