Let’s stop sugarcoating the problem

 YSU has been deemed an urban research university, but that’s obviously not because of the amount of black students enrolled.

Of the 13,698 students enrolled this spring, 2,084 are black. That’s 15 percent, down from nearly 17 percent in the fall when only 7 percent of graduate students were black.

However, according to a 2010 report by the Education Trust, YSU had the second highest amount of black students enrolled.

An obvious dilemma exists. Why aren’t universities nationwide able to attract and graduate black students?

Yulanda McCarty-Harris, director of YSU’s office of equal opportunity and diversity, said it’s not unusual to see this gap in urban institutions.

“It’s an ongoing issue,” she said. 

But what constitutes an urban institution? 

It’s certainly not a name or catchphrase. 

Yes, the number of minority students at YSU has doubled since 2001, but this university is in the center of a city with roughly 30,000 black residents, or 45.2 percent of Youngstown’s population.

What’s worse is that the black students who do enroll aren’t graduating. According to the Education Trust report, YSU ranks 20th from the bottom in the nation in graduating black students. 

YSU is graduating only 15.4 percent of blacks, compared to 38.6 percent of white students from 2006 to 2008.

That’s compared to 293 public and 163 private nonprofit colleges nationwide. 

“One of the things that has to be done is give more attention to students of color,” said William Blake, student diversity coordinator. 

We couldn’t agree more. The university should provide these students with more resources to ensure their success.

That’s not to say that the students shouldn’t help themselves. The student should always be proactive in measuring his or her academic success.

The university should consider the circumstances associated with being raised in an urban neighborhood.

The Ohio Board of Regents has acted swiftly in enacting initiatives to assist students’ tenure by cutting remedial courses and managing curriculums. 

That leads to another issue: What are local high schools doing to ensure student success and graduation?

“Diversity is what truly enhances the learning environment,” McCarty-Harris said.

If officials at the university would just open their eyes, recognize the problem and be proactive, then we can quit the charade.

Because let’s face it …  YSU isn’t as diverse as it seems.

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