Population changes do not warrant immediate action

On June 4, 2012

At USF, the number of black students enrolling is dropping. This change does not warrant immediate action from the university, though continued observation of the ethnic profile trends could eventually benefit these underrepresented minorities.

In fall 2010, Vice Provost Paul Dosal said the USF Tampa campus freshman class was one of the most diverse classes the university has ever enrolled, according to the Tampa Tribune. In 2011, about 35 percent of the student body was made up of minorities.

Nonetheless, last year, black students comprised 10.5 percent of freshmen, a drop from almost 16 percent in 2001. This drop is more surprising given the fact that Hillsborough County comprises 17 percent black residents.

The Hispanic population made up 18 percent of the USF population in 2011, which is comparable to the 25 percent of Hillsborough residents that are Hispanic. This is an increase from 10.3 percent of Hispanic undergraduates in fall 2001.

What concerns Dosal is the fact that a public university should reflect the area it serves, he said to the Tribune. The drop in the number of black students brings about questions of whether any action should be carried out to allow USF to increase the number of black undergraduate students.

The number of applications submitted by black applicants has doubled over the past ten years and has nearly quadrupled for Hispanics, according to the Tribune. But the number of black students matriculating each year is decreasing.

This could reflect the struggle that many students in Hillsborough County face to meet the increasingly stringent requirements for admission to USF. Whatever the reason, the decrease in black students at USF is not for lack of an attempt.

Though the percentage of black students at USF has decreased over time, the number graduating with a bachelors degree has increased. This shift attests to the idea that no immediate action is necessary.

An increase in the degrees issued means an increase in graduation rates, which is more important than simply admissions. Though matriculation is significant, a college education holds the most value when a degree is earned.

An alternate method that takes into account diversity of circumstances and obstacles rather than ethnicity would better serve the university.

Several other Florida state universities require an essay that takes into account qualitative features and accomplishments of students that are not reflected in GPAs and test scores. Though such a change at USF is not necessary immediately, such considerations would hold merit if the downward trend continues.

Though no action is needed, it is important to continue to follow trends displayed within the USF population to ensure that university enrollment is fair for every potential student.

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