WU black relations rank fourth
The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranked Washington University fourth in attracting, enrolling, and graduating African-American students and in the institution’s ability to attract and retain black professors. The study compared WU to the nation’s other top 26 ranked universities and was published in the journal’s Sept. 6 issue.
WU was ranked behind only Duke, Emory, and Princeton, and it received an average score of 82.00 out of a possible 100 in the assessed categories. Carnegie Mellon, John Hopkins, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Chicago were the worst performers.
One of the factors in WU’s success in the survey was the small difference in graduation rates between white and black students. Eighty-four percent of black students go on to graduate at WU, compared with 86 percent of their white peers.
Gerald Early, a professor of modern letters at WU and a leading national voice on African-American studies, said of the study, “I think all of us at WU should feel proud of the efforts that have been made to help African-American students succeed and feel at home here. To have our school so highly rated as a place for African-American students is deeply gratifying to me as an African-American professor.”
The JBHE study also said that WU had made the most progress over the last five years in increasing its percentage of tenured black faculty, moving from 1.2 percent to 3.1 percent.
“We have made great strides in hiring faculty of color but still need to do more in this area,” said Early. “I sense great commitment to this by both the administration and the faculty and expect even more significant improvement over the next three to five years.”
However, the survey rated WU relatively low in its black percentage of the student body (5.8 percent), and in its yield of black students (22.8 percent). These statistics indicate that while African-American students are highly successful once they matriculate at WU, the university does have work to do in attracting African-American students.
Dean James McLeod said that the university tries to maintain positive relations between black and white students on campus.
“The faculty and student body at WU are committed to an inclusive community where all perspectives and backgrounds are respected,” said McLeod. “It is through their efforts in building this community that diversity is valued and scholarship encouraged.”
The JBHE study has been criticized for being too quantitative to truly measure integration. The JBHE admits that the test does not measure qualitative factors such as campus segregation, attitudes of white students, and instances of bigotry and racial violence.
“What none of these statistics tell us, however, is the level of intellectual interaction between African-American students and other students and between African-American faculty and other faculty,” said Associate Professor of History Henry Berger. Junior Crystal Miller, the vice president of the Association of Black Students, agreed.
“The term ‘integration’ is being used too loosely,” she said. “Does a higher percentage of African-American faculty, retention and graduation rate make our campus integrated?”
“In my opinion, our campus may be diverse, but it is also self-segregated,” she continued. “There are numerous multicultural groups, but few actually collaborate on projects. I think it’s a fear of communication, a lack of education, and apathy. It seems as if everyone talks about how the student body should integrate more, but no seems to care enough to actually do something.”
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