Early Decision applications from African-American and Latino students this year have increased by almost 60 percent, a Northwestern official said Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, 74 black students have applied early to Northwestern, compared to last year’s 48 percent — a 61 percent increase — Associate Provost of Enrollment Management Michael Mills said. Early applications from Latino students have risen 58 percent, while total Early Decision applications have jumped 15 percent.
After harsh criticisms Friday night at the State of the Black Union address by students of FMO, the Office of Enrollment assured the black community that it was “working hard” to increase minority enrollment.
“Northwestern doesn’t understand diversity,” said Mark Crain, former FMO coordinator, at Friday’s event.
Crain and current coordinator Zachary Parker focused mainly on the university’s “pathetic” enrollment of 81 black freshmen in the class of 2012. Crain attributed this issue to Northwestern’s failure to draw students from minority high schools. “Students in Chicago public schools today largely look at Northwestern as a country club [to] which they can never gain access,” he said.
A member of Friday night’s audience, Vice President of University Relations Al Cubbage says the university has responded to FMO’s allegations. “The university is working with FMO and other student organizations to resolve most of these issues,” Cubbage said.
According to Cubbage, the university has been making “significant efforts” at predominately minority high schools. On Friday, Crain alleged that the current programs were not enough: “Lets not exaggerate and make it seem like this issue is a crisis for the administration because frankly it’s only a crisis if you care. When I say care…I mean showing me real concrete ways that you want to solve this problem.”
Northwestern’s Office of Enrollment Management hopes to present to Crain and others the “concrete ways” they’re looking for. When Northwestern realized their minority enrollment numbers were falling last spring, “that triggered a series of conversations all the way up to the president,” Mills said. “That’s our top priority for next fall: to make sure that that number grows.”
Mills outlined a series of programs the university is undertaking in order to reach out to minority high schools. Leading these efforts is a partnership with QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that attempts to connect low-income students with high-ranking universities. Northwestern has agreed to provide 15 full-ride scholarships for students through the program. “[Joining] QuestBridge [is] probably the single most important gesture that Northwestern could make,” Mills said.
Other enrollment efforts include waiving applications fees for students from Chicago public schools, and two new preview programs that target African-American and Latino students: Why NU and Symposium. The office also hopes to “work more closely” with Northwestern students through Ambassador and CLAVE, student organizations that specifically target potential African-American and Latino undergraduates in the time preceding application deadlines.