CSU reports declining Black enrollment

According to the California State University Institutional Research & Analyses, Black student enrollment across the CSU system has decreased by 7,000 students from 2008 to 2019, reaching a new-time low of 19,384 Black students

The release of this news has prompted the California Faculty Association to demand change for campuses to strategically come up with a plan to increase enrollment of all marginalized students, but specifically Black students by recommending solutions.

While there are no definite reasons for the decrease of blacks students, the California Faculty Association has taken notice of the enrollment decline. According to SF State CFA chapter President James Martel, he believes this decline is in part the result of limited resources. 

The CFA’s strategic plan includes implementing plans such as, “[establishing] Black student resource centers on every CSU campus” and “[increasing] in funding, resources, and personnel centers that already exist.” 

“I think a lot of Black students are getting the message that the higher education system isn’t interested in their well-being or their flourishing in the state university systems,” Martel said. “Starting back with Prop. 209 in 1996, questions of race are not allowed to be factored into college admission standards, something that has had a disproportionately negative effect on Black enrollment.”

Proposition 209 amended the state constitution, probiting state governmental institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity in processes such as college admissions. If passed, Proposition 16 will repeal the 1996 amendment, allowing these  factors to be considered when selecting applicants for hiring and college admissions.   

According to the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policies 2019 issue, “Considering the Ethnoracial and Gender Diversity of Faculty In the United States College and University Intellectual Communities,” between the years of 2011 and 2017, Black faculty grew one-tenth of a percent.  

“Without Black faculty, Black students may well feel that they are not being recognized or respected,” Martel said. “The administrations at these schools are very good at sounding like they welcome diversity, but their failure to address ongoing issues of racial bias.”

In Fall 2019, the CSU  calculated a 59% difference between the roughly 8,000 white faculty members — which includes professors, associate professors, assistant professors and lecturers — and the 4,752 faculty members who identified as a minority. 

The CSU intends to work on increasing faculty diversity through programs like the California Pre-Doctoral Program, which provides scholarships to help get students into graduate schools, particularly with support for those who come from underserved communities. The goal is to get the scholars to come back to the CSU as faculty after earning their Ph.D.

“The CSU seeks to expand opportunities for underrepresented minority students through preparation in quantitative reasoning,” CSU Public Affairs Manager Kelly Hazel said. “Because one of the greatest academic hurdles to college degree attainment is a lack of fundamental skills in quantitative reasoning, the CSU approved a proposal that requires high school applicants to complete the fourth year of high school math or a QR course like computer science or statistics.”

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement goes into effect in the fall of 2027. Students who graduate from high school in 2027 and later would be affected.

The enrollment decline of Black students at the CSU after 2008 can partially be attributed in part to changes in federal reporting requirements.

The adding of the two or more races section gave enrolling students more options for representation and would provide CSUs with more specific data. 

“The federal government changed data reporting requirements to allow students to self-identify their race/ethnicity as two or more races for the first time ever,” Hazel said. “Some students who previously identified themselves as Black/African Americans are now identifying themselves as two or more races and the data reflects that change.”