Double down on minority representation

U.Va. must not take increasing minority enrollment for granted, especially in light of concerns related to white supremacist activity

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Peabody Hall — home to the University's admissions office

Raymundo Mora | Cavalier Daily

Last week, The Cavalier Daily reported on data from the University which showed an increase of 38 percent in first-year minority enrollment since 2012. The data show that the number of students who identify as African-American has increased from 7.1 percent in 2012 to 9.1 percent in 2017. This is excellent news, seeing as the 20 percent of African-American Virginians are underrepresented at the University. Unfortunately, this progress is threatened by the events of Aug. 11 and 12, when white supremacists descended on Grounds and on Charlottesville. Recently, The Daily Progress reported that the Darden School of Business experienced a drop in applications, which the administration attributed to the negative attention surrounding these white supremacist rallies. The concerns of minority applicants regarding the atmosphere and safety of the University are understandable, given the traumatic and recurring nature of these white supremacist demonstrations. In light of this new information, the University must double down and actively pursue policies to increase minority applicants and enrollment, taking the context of the summer into consideration. 

In order to continue the trend of increasing diversity at the University, the administration must work hard to improve outreach into minority communities. This could be done by better advertising the resources the University offers minority students, like the aid program, which has helped the University rank in the top 30 of U.S. News & World Report’s best value colleges. The University must also combine this outreach with changes to its admissions policies that will remove barriers for potential minority applicants. Effective policies to do this might include expanding fee waivers to applicants in disadvantaged communities as well as instituting our recommendation that the University go test-optional. These policies would be invaluable in increasing the diversity on Grounds, while also making sure talented applicants make an informed choice, based on facts, about whether the University is right for them.

Though the recent statistics seem promising, it is essential that the University continue on this path toward being more representative of the state’s demographics. In the aftermath of the events of Aug. 11 and 12, it is essential that the University actively recruit minority applicants. The administration should do so not only to show these students why the University is the best choice for them, but to assure them that they will be safe if they choose to attend. Because these events are still on the minds of so many, the University must reach out to minority students. By instituting these policies, the University will ensure the continuation of this promising trend. The University has already made decent progress towards increasing the minority student population — we cannot let this progress go to waste.

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