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Sobering Statistics

Sobering Statistics

Sixty-seven percent of Black male students who begin college never complete their degrees. Black men comprise only 4.3 percent of students enrolled at American colleges and universities, the exact same percentage as in 1976. These are staggering statistics, and Dr. Shaun Harper of the University of Pennsylvania is trying to make sense of the data he’s compiled in what is considered to be the largest-ever empirical study of Black male undergraduates.

With more than 200 Black men participating in his study, Harper’s subjects were enrolled in six different types of institutions, 42 in all. In “Seeking Out Success,” senior writer Ronald Roach reports that with all of Harper’s data he is writing both a 40-page report and a book, which Harper says should highlight strategies to combat the low Black male college enrollment and
completion rates.

In “Tackling the Black, Brown Male Crisis,” senior writer David Pluviose provides another angle on what higher ed is doing to engage Black and Hispanic male college students. The Student African American Brotherhood, also called Brother to Brother on some campuses, was founded by Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe on the campus of a four-year university, but he says community colleges are the fastest-growing segment of the

“Engagement, particularly at the two-year level, is a real important piece, particularly for young men of color who come into these two-year situations and don’t have a real sense of direction and guidance. They’ve done something good in their mind, and that is going to college, but they don’t have a plan to make college work,” Bledsoe says. And Bledsoe does not go about setting up SAAB chapters blindly. He visits interested campuses to do an environmental audit to assess whether these colleges and universities foster an environment that is hospitable and inviting to young minority men.

Shifting gears a bit, although still reporting on issues of access and equity, Diverse goes international as we report on India’s Supreme Court’s recent ruling on quotas in higher education for historically oppressed Indians. India’s public universities have reserved 27 percent of their seats for lower-caste and historically oppressed Indians, and the court upheld a stay against the quota system, a ruling that upper-caste Indians support and the lower-caste Indians consider a blow to educational equality. Read more about this battle between the have and have-nots in Jonathan Sidhu’s “A Tale of Two Indias.”

Correspondent Patricia Valdata in “Creativity In Its Most Pure Form,” reports on a summer program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which brings high school students onto the campus for a few intense days of poetry and fiction writing, panels and more. The four-day workshop led by SIU professor Allison Joseph might actually expand to a week next year at the suggestion of students, many of whom return year after year. One student said she hadn’t been able to turn off the inspiration since the work began, just as Joseph and her colleagues hoped.

Says Joseph: “The focus is not just on how to become a writer; most of the kids we see are very much writers in their own minds. [The question is] how do you feed that fire? How do you stay enthusiastic about what you do?”

And, lastly, remembering Asa Hilliard. Don’t miss Dr. J. Herman Blake’s tribute to this scholar who will be very much missed.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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