College community dissatisfied with enrolled students of color

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Upon arriving at Ithaca College for the first time, freshman Patty McHugh, an Asian American student, said she was confused when she couldn’t find students who looked like her. She said it was the first time she had seen the college in person since the onset of COVID-19, and she expected to see diversity similar to the Pictures illustrating student life on the college website.

The number of students of color in college has fluctuated over the past five years, according to the Office of Analytics and Institutional Research. Enrollment of black and African American students increased from 5.7% in 2017, to 5.5% in 2018, to 5.7% in 2019, to 5.9% in 2020 and to 5.5% in 2021. Asian identification students remained constant compared to 4.0% in 2017, 4.0% in 2018, 4.1% in 2019, 4.0% in 2020 and 3.9% in 2021. Hispanic or Latin American student populations, however, have seen an increase from 8.1% in 2017, 8.5% in 2018, 9.3% in 2019, 10.2% in 2020 and 10.1% in 2021.

The college is a predominantly white institution, with 3,795 white students enrolled in fall 2021, while 1,223 students of color are enrolled, according to AIR.

Laurie Koehler, Vice President of Marketing and Enrollment Strategy, Nicole Eversley Bradwell, Executive Director of Admissions and Shana Gore, Executive Director of Student Financial Services noted they were concerned about the recent drop in enrollment for Blacks, Indigenous Peoples and Students of Color (BIPOC) and that this reflected a national downward trend.

“The percentage of Ithaca College undergraduates who identify as BIPOC has been on a gradual upward trend over the past decade,” they said via email. “However, this fall we saw a slight drop in the overall percentage of undergraduates who identify as BIPOC.”

College enrollment rates among minority students across the country saw an increase from 2000 to 2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Enrollment of black or African American students increased from 31% in 2000 to 37% in 2018. Asian enrollments increased slightly, from 56% in 2000 to 59% in 2018. Hispanic or Latino enrollments saw the decline. largest increase, from 22% in 2000 to 36% in 2018. Of the 2025 class at Ithaca College, 23.5% identify as BIPOC. In comparison, 53.1% of Cornell University Class of 2025 self-identified as BIPOC.

Koehler, Eversley Bradwell and Gore also said Ithaca College is working to strengthen its ties with BIPOC students. Some of the strategies include regional in-person recruitments, campus tours, and collaboration with the Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities of New York (CICU). The college also plans to eliminate the use of the College Scholarship Service (CSS) profile for students applying to enroll in fall 2022 and will only require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). for students.

“After analyzing the data, we realized that our financial aid application requirements were a barrier for many students, and disproportionately for students from populations historically underserved by higher education institutions – first generation students of color and students from low-income households, ”they said via email.

McHugh said she was often the only student of color in her classes, which was completely different from her experience in her home state of New Jersey, where she said she experienced more diversity in the world. community in which she grew up.

“I’m not used to being the only person of color in a room,” she said. “I have the impression that people are going [to schools] where they think they will feel comfortable and feel that there will be other people around them who are like them.

McHugh emphasized the importance of educating others about the issues facing students of color. She noted it is important, especially in groups of friends, to address any problematic point of view that arises from ignorance.

“I think if you don’t educate your friends, no one is going anywhere,” she said.

There was a history of racist incidents in college. Some high profile cases include a racist incident that occurred in a acting classes in November 2019, where Anne Hamilton, a former acting lecturer in the Department of the Theater Arts, asked students to write racial slurs on a whiteboard, and in December 2018, a student received a backlash after using a racial slur in a video posted to Snapchat. Tom Rochon, former president of the college, take a step down in july 2017 continued protests led by the POC group at IC and votes of no confidence from both Faculty and students. POC at IC was formed in 2015 following racist incidents that occurred while Rochon was president.

Freshman Carolina Cedraschi said she was surprised to learn about the low number of students of color enrolled in the college. While Cedraschi said some of her classes had a more diverse range of students, she also said there were times when she would be the only student of color in a group, such as on her soccer team.

“May be [students of color] look at this school when they come here and they realize that they can’t find the people they really relate to, ”Cedraschi said.

One way Cedraschi said she was getting involved with other students of color is through Mixed IC, a student organization that focuses on building a community for students who identify as multiracial. She said the club had a positive impact on her time in college as it was unlike anything on offer when she was in high school.

“Despite the decline in numbers, the college has so many programs that you can really find yourself finding yourself,” she said. “Everyone should just try to make themselves known… look around to see if you like them, then just try to meet new people. “

Freshman Curtis Bediako said he was especially surprised to find that of the college’s few students of color, most were from New York City. However, Bediako said he was not surprised by the low number of students of color, but rather expected it.

“I wouldn’t find Ithaca College to be a beacon for people of color,” Bediako said. “[The college] is in an area heavily populated by white people so I guess not many people of color would choose Ithaca College.

Despite this, Bediako noted prospective students of color should have an open mind about the college and the community.


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