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Black student enrollment at University of Maryland lags

Maryland

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 1/30/2018, 10:49 a.m.
The University of Maryland, considered the state’s flagship university, enrolls..

The University of Maryland, considered the state’s flagship university, enrolls disproportionately fewer Black students compared to the state’s population. According to the Baltimore Sun, Black students make up 36 percent of the state’s high school graduates but only 12 percent of the freshman class at the U of M. “A state school should be committed to its state’s population,” said Omari Jackson, a professor of urban educational leadership at Morgan State University, a historically black school in Baltimore. He said flagship schools should try to reach demographically proportional representation in student enrollment. “The school you go to matters,” he said. “There’s cachet to being able to say, ‘I went to Maryland’.” University of Maryland officials tout diversity as a strength. Roughly 43 percent of this year’s first-time students identify as minorities. About 20 percent identified as Asian students, nearly 8 percent as Hispanic and 4 percent as more than one race. Just 10.8 percent identify as African American, the fewest in at least five years. Several racially charged incidents on campus in recent years — including the killing last year of a Black Bowie State University student, allegedly by a white University of Maryland student, now being prosecuted as a hate crime — have increased tension among students. Students of color have questioned the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. The University of Maryland set aside $3.8 million for new diversity measures following the killing, university President Wallace D. Loh told the Sun last week. The university also hired a firm to take campus climate surveys every two years, created an institute for inclusiveness in higher education, and established a rapid-response team for bias incidents, Loh said. Across the University System of Maryland — 11 traditional public universities, including three that are historically Black — Black students represented 25.6 percent of all students enrolled in fall 2017. The University of Maryland College Park had the lowest percentage of African-American students.