Sep 102009

While the efforts and successes of CSU’s push to diversify itself certainly deserve kudos, the university is nowhere near the finish line.

Press releases heralding the school’s recent award for its commitment to ethnic diversity inadequately paint the picture of our school as Colorado’s melting pot — a shining example of a progressive institution.

But the numbers reveal a less glorious reality.

In the last decade, this campus has indeed become less homogenous — by roughly 2 percent, according to university records. That’s an increase of about 760 minority students over 10 years, at a school that boasts about 25,000 students.

As progress goes, that’s a slow increase. To be fair, CSU’s peer institutions have had similar results. For instance, neighboring CU-Boulder is, as a percentage, more diverse but has seen the same creeping increase in minority students.

The issue of a lack of diversity at CSU, or higher education as a whole, won’t be solved with bells and whistles (CSU’s token marketing approach . “green university,” anyone?). The issue is systemic, multi-faceted and birthed in historic injustice.

From the under-funded, under-performing urban and rural school districts — those of traditionally poor and minority areas — that can’t keep up, to Colorado’s Commission on Higher Education that’s increased enrollment standards, thereby widening the gap between minority students and a college education, and myriad ticks and tacks, potential Rams will continue to fall through the cracks.

That’s where the unsung heroes of our school’s retention programs, student advocacy offices and those pushing for holistic admissions processes try to pick up the pieces.

CSU gets props for continuing to skate uphill, but don’t let the self-aggrandizing chatter drown out the real issue. We’ve still got a long way to go, and the path starts with a little reality check.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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