Decrease in black students prompts concern in Office of Multicultural Affairs

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The Black Student Union and Latino Student Union often work together and support issues affecting each other’s communities. 

According to a recent Inside Higher Ed article, a Pennsylvanian college ran an advertisement that included several diverse students; however, in reality, the ad was photoshopped to replace two white students for two students of color. At BGSU, several departments are working to combat inaccuracies like this in their own recruitment efforts.

For the first time, BGSU’s Undergraduate Student Government partnered with the Office of Admissions to host a multicultural organization fair on President’s Day for prospective students to experience the university’s culture of inclusion firsthand.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs commitment to diversity and inclusion has become a part of programming events throughout the year. However, since fall 2010, the university’s black community has steadily declined by 2.51 percent, according to BGSU institutional research.

At this rate, in the next ten years, there could be less than 1,000 black students enrolled at BGSU.

Courtney Chambers, USG director of diversity affairs, started the multicultural fair and called it “Excellence in the Making.”

“Belonging to an organization makes BG feel like home,” Chambers said. “Without the organizations I’ve joined, I would have moved back home because I felt that alone and depressed.”

Ana Brown, coordinator for diversity and retention initiatives in the Office of Residence Life and interim director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said, “These numbers are concerning, and it is amazing to see students heading this initiative up.”

According to Chambers, Brown really inspired her to get the ball rolling and start working with USG.

Besides USG, Chambers is involved with the Black Student Union, Pretty Brown Girls, Residence Life and Queens of Color.

“We often give students what they want to see in our marketing,” Chambers said. “But sometimes they get here, and it can feel completely different if they don’t know what resources are available. This opportunity allows prospective students to not only see other students of color representing their organization but also see who they are as a community and maybe find what works for them.”

USG Vice President Marcus Goolsby felt similarly.

“Seeing that our numbers were dropping, we wanted to showcase the positives of BGSU to prospective students and give them the experience that once led me to choose to come here,” he said.

Many first-generation college students are students of color. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 14 percent of first-generation college students are black, but black students only make up 11 percent of continuing generation students.

Chambers said this impacts more than just the black community at BGSU. She noted that black and Latino students on campus interact with each other heavily through multicultural organizations like Black Student Union and Latino Student Union, which often work together and support each other on similar issues that affect them.

“Many of these students don’t have the same resources as a lot of others at home,” Chambers said. “Having a multicultural org fair will help lift the pressure off and give them a chance to get their feet wet, so they aren’t all on their own when they get to campus freshman year.”

With numbers of black students declining at BGSU, “Excellence in the Making” is BGSU’s attempt to not only market diversity but also sustain it and allow it to grow.