|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Monday, June 28, 2004
San Luis Obispo Tribune 6-28-04
More, and less, Latinos among new Poly class
CAL POLY - This fall's freshman class at Cal Poly is shaping up to be more diverse than last year, but less diverse than four years ago.
University officials cautioned, however, that the numbers are not final and will fluctuate between now and the start of school in September.
According to the preliminary figures:
• The percentage of white students registering this fall compared to four years ago climbed nearly 4 percent to 67.3 percent. That compares to a campus-wide enrollment of 73.8 percent white students last fall.
• There are slightly higher percentages of black, Asian and Filipino students registering this fall compared to four years ago.
• The number of Latino students dropped during the four-year period, despite the fact that more applied and were accepted to Cal Poly than in 2000.
While 3,405 Latino students applied in 2004, compared to 1,971 four years ago, Cal Poly accepted just 58 more Latinos this year than in 2000. And 40 fewer Latinos have signed an intent to register for the fall.
That could be a sign that some Latinos who are accepted to Cal Poly choose to go elsewhere. If this is happening, university officials say they don't know why.
But compared to last year, slightly more Latino and Filipino students have registered this fall.
That one-year bounce may be attributable to the university's increased efforts to recruit students from urban high schools, speculated Robert Detweiler, the university's interim provost.
"We've received more applicants out of (the urban schools), and a higher proportion of them are Latino and black students," he said.
However, while the number of applicants of every race continues to increase each year, it is offset by a comparatively small percentage of non-white students who graduate from high school having met the California State University entrance requirements.
"That's the real scandal in California," Detweiler said.
University officials say two other factors contribute to fewer non-white students enrolling, one new and the other nearly a decade old.
The state budget is preventing Cal Poly, and the other public universities in California, from growing to meet the increasing number of students graduating from high school.
While the number of incoming freshmen this fall will nearly match the 3,000 who arrived in 2003, university officials say the total number of students will be down about 400 from the total enrollment last fall of 18,300.
Detweiler said the largest factor is Cal Poly's emphasis on engineering, agriculture and architecture. He said blacks and Latinos are not historically represented in these professions and are not applying to these kinds of programs in the same numbers as white students.
"It reduces the pool (of interested students) down to a very small number," he said.
When the school is interested in qualified non-white students, Detweiler said, Cal Poly typically loses out to University of California campuses that have more discretionary money to offer prospective students to offset tuition and other costs.
Another factor is Proposition 209, which voters passed in 1996 banning the use of racial preferences in government, employment, contracting and public education.
The number of non-white students since then has fallen at Cal Poly, which has yet to catch up to the level of non-white students before Proposition 209.
In 1995, Cal Poly's freshman class was 66.8 percent white, 15.4 percent Latino, 9.1 percent Asian and 2.4 percent black.
The percentage of black students then was more than twice the figure for this coming fall, and the percent of Latino students was nearly twice this fall's.
Detweiler has noted that the university does have a good track record of graduating non-white students.
He said Cal Poly was ranked 51st in the top 100 schools list compiled by the magazine Hispanic Outlook In Higher Education, based on the number of undergraduate degrees awarded to Latinos in 2001.
The university also ranked 76th overall for the number of minority students
earning undergraduate degrees, according to the journal Black Issues in
Higher Education, including the sixth-highest for awarding engineering
degrees to black students.
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