2022 sees drop in Black student enrollment

By Michael Bales and Aidan Sadovi

The number of Black students enrolled at the University declined in 2022 for the first time in eight years, according to self-reported statistics from the Division of Management Information.

“Black student enrollment has been positive for a very long time,” said Sean Garrick, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the University. “I think we’re still trying to figure out exactly why there was a decrease.” 

In 2021, 3,833 Black students (6.8% of the student body) were enrolled at the University. In 2022, there were 3,686 Black students enrolled (6.5% of the student body).

“Even if (the number) goes down by 10 students, it’s significant,” Garrick said.

Garrick cited effects from the pandemic and the application process as possibilities of what was responsible for the change, but the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is “still trying to get an exact sense of why or what was responsible.”

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In 2021, according to Inside Higher Ed, 4.4% of Black students had canceled their future postsecondary education plans due to the effects of the pandemic, compared to 2.3% of all students. 

Although the exact reason for the decrease is unknown, the end of such trends is something the OVCDEI takes note of.

“We have to make sure that we are making ourselves and the institution available to students from a variety of backgrounds,” Garrick said. “Whether we’re talking about in-state or just out-of-state, international students and so on.”

As far as taking a look inward for possible causes of the decrease, an element that Garrick thinks must be considered is the reputation of the University. 

“If you have students who, as a whole, just say that the student experience isn’t that great, then I imagine they have either siblings or friends or family in their communities, and they’re sharing those opinions,” he said.

This semester, the OVCDEI will be conducting a “campus climate survey,” which Garrick said will “survey all students to get a sense of how they feel welcomed on campus, how they feel that they are respected and/or otherwise seen on campus.”

“Those types of things can really help us get a deeper sense of what the student experience is truly like,” Garrick said. “You could factor into things such as applications and enrollments in subsequent years.” 

Finding the results of such surveys and creating an inclusive environment are among the goals of the OVCDEI. 

“Students want to feel as if this is their campus,” Garrick said. 


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