Despite administration efforts, University diversity rates remain stagnant

Dora Kreitzer, Contributing Writer

Despite University efforts to increase campus diversity, Admissions Department data reveals that the racial demographics of the incoming class of 2020 are almost exactly the same as those of the incoming class back in 2016. 

In 2014, when only 22 percent of the undergraduate student body identified as a minority, the school named improving undergraduate diversity as one of its many goals in the 2014-2019 Diversity Plan. The strategies outlined included developing outreach plans to build pipelines to students of color and broaden the applicant pool, reviewing assessment related to the success of underrepresented student groups on campus and enhancing existing programs aimed at retention, support and success for students that have been historically marginalized. 

However, the more recent data reveals that the University’s demographics have not significantly changed. 

The Bucknellian has reached out to the President’s Diversity Council to hear their perspective on their challenges and future goals; they have yet to get back to us as of this publication. 

Recently, in the University’s Plan for 2025, the school noted that they had “fallen short of meeting [their] goals and aspirations” from the last plans with regard to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) not only with regard to admissions but even once students are enrolled. 

Last November, the University joined the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance. This launched DEI councils in each of the three colleges and seven departments, and established an anti-racism fund. The university’s goal was to have created and began implementing the next updated Diversity Plan by Spring 2020, but at present no new plan has been released. 

While data for this year will be released in a few weeks, the first-year class has been 71-77 percent white, from 2016 to 2020. While students of color made up only 13-19 percent of each year’s incoming class, non-white students made up 44 percent of total undergraduate student enrollment in degree-granting institutions across the country in 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 

“There’s a few things that could be done, but this first requires that the University diverges from its past and current shallow commitment to diversity and inclusion and makes comprehensive, systemic changes to support students of color,” on-campus advocate Ninah Jackson ’25 said. 

Jackson listed strengthening the Critical Black Studies Department, giving students of color more institutional representation and making more of an effort to break the “Bucknell Bubble” on a larger and more publicized scale. 

While the University has been working on increasing campus diversity, students of color have formed their own communities and networks on campus. 

For example, Jackson created “Bison Blackout,” a podcast and digital platform “illuminating Blackness at [the University].” 

She also mentioned being able to find networks of other students of color through affinity based organizations, programs like Multicultural Student Services and her scholarship cohort Posse DC 17. 

Jackson said, “was this an active effort on my part? In part, yes. As a first year student,  I wanted to kick off my first semester at [the University] with a strong social circle of students who’d be navigating [the University] in a manner similar to me.”

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