This year, The College of Wooster’s campus welcomed the largest cohort of multiethnic students it has seen in the past four years. This is really, really awesome, but also raises the question, “What is the College doing to support said students?”
I remember helping out with Moove-In and staring in astonishment at all the beautiful, wonderful Black and Brown faces present on campus. This year, the Class of 2018 entered with 192 students of color: 66 International, 30 Hispanic, 8 American Indian/Alaskan Native, 33 Asian (Domestic)/Pacific Islander/Hawaiian, and 55 Black/African American according to the 2014 Fall Retention Report. In a class of 547 students, students of color compose about 35 percent of the Class of 2018. This number is significantly larger than percentages from previous classes.
In previous years, the percentage of students of color has remained below 30 percent. In the class of 2017, students of color represented 24 percent of the student body, 24 percent again in 2016, and 25 percent in 2015. In light of this, I am pleased to commend the College for its dedication to multiethnicity. However, I will also say that getting students here is only one part of the initiative, and the College must also answer the question, “How do we retain these students?”
As of Sept. 8, 2014, the retention rate for students of color in the Class of 2015 is 75.6 percent, 72.6 percent for the Class of 2016, and a whopping 92.8 percent for the Class of 2017. The data shows an astounding increase in the retention of students of color in the Class of 2017 – and for good reason, I believe.
Last year, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) initiated the program Hump Night, an academic resource for students of color. Hump Night, which happens every Wednesday night in the Tartan Room, provides a space for students to study and meet with STEM tutors. Hump Night also pairs first-year students with mentoring upperclassmen with mutual interests. I suspect this, among other factors, including the placement of cameras on Beall Ave., is what helped retain 2017’s students of color.
I believe the retention rate could grow even closer to 100 percent if the College brought in barbers and beauticians for students of color. It is great that the College is providing academic support services for students of color, but let’s face it: the town of Wooster is not the most ethnically diverse place in the world. Students need to be affirmed and supported holistically, and there is still much to be done in the social and cultural realms of student life as well. If the College decides to move forward in this, I can guarantee students will appreciate the College’s commitment to valuing diversity.