CU`s 1999 diversity plan.Page 5A
His freshman year at the University of Colorado, a fellow student
asked Andre Brooks "what ghetto I came from."
He had to adjust to his new friends heading to the mountains every
weekend, doing things he didn`t really grow up doing in Denver`s
Montbello neighborhood -- snowboarding, skiing, hiking.
He felt he had to prove himself in his college engineering
classes, using "big words and doing ridiculous stuff to show
them I`m as smart as they are."
And after growing up in a middle-class family, it bugged him to
see rich kids throw their money away.
"As I went through the school year, I started noticing things
like a giant Louis Vuitton purse passing me on campus, BMWs in the
parking lots and random shopping trips," said Brooks, who will
be a senior in the fall. "There was a student who lived on my
floor and when her clothes got dirty, she wouldn`t wash them. She`d
go buy new ones and give the old ones away."
Brooks, who is black, came to CU on a full academic scholarship
and will be the first in his family to graduate from college. He now
tutors other students and helps with a summer program aimed at
getting underrepresented students prepared for the university. He
said he thinks he`s getting a good education at CU.
But his pursuit of a degree is forcing him to deal with racial
tension at the state`s flagship campus that he said comes from a lack
The Boulder campus last school year had one more black student and
the same percentage of minority students as it did five years ago in
the 1998-99 year, when the Board of Regents approved a new diversity
And this fall`s minority enrollment is shaping up to be about the
Of the 5,795 freshmen who have confirmed they will come to the
Boulder campus this fall, 865 are minority students, about the same
as the 867 last summer, said admissions director Barbara Schneider.
"I think we need to work on (developing) the perception that
CU is a welcoming place for students of color," Schneider said.
A commission that investigated the university's football scandal
earlier this year agreed with that assessment. The panel recommended
"campuswide recruitment of diverse student populations to
enhance the educational experience of all students and increase
interest in the school by African-Americans and other
Two football players who are leaving CU in the wake of the scandal
-- involving allegations of rape against black players and recruits
-- intimated that the racial atmosphere on campus is a reason for
Overall, 13.2 percent of last year's 29,151 students were
minorities, compared to 13.3 percent in 1998.
Black students made up 1.5 percent of CU's students last year,
down slightly from 1.7 percent in 1998 and exactly the same as the
percentage in 1988.
CU's minority enrollment -- while higher than Colorado State
University's -- hasn't kept up with diversity among the state's high
school graduates. Of last year's graduating seniors, 23.3 percent
were minorities, including 4.4 percent who were black. The
percentages of students who went straight to in-state colleges were
similar -- 23.2 percent were minorities, including 3.8 percent who
Jewel Sandy was one of 448 black students at CU last year and an
officer of the Black Student Alliance. She said the lack of diversity
on campus is a "vicious cycle" that creates future problems
recruiting students of color.
"They bring people here, and who they see probably makes them
not want to come here," said Sandy, a 20-year-old pre-med
student. "I knew the diversity numbers before I came, so I
really wouldn't say I was shocked by it. ... But sometimes people
just look at you, and you feel singled out."
Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, associate vice chancellor for diversity
and equity, said CU has had problems trying to get a "critical
mass" of students of color, which would help future minority
Many high-achieving minority teenagers are wooed by out-of-state
universities, she said.
"I think that CU is putting a tremendous amount of energy,
personnel and money into improving minority recruitment and
retention," said Yoshinaga-Itano, whose position was created in
1998. "We can always do a better job."
CU recruiters spend time in Colorado high schools and middle
schools to establish relationships with underrepresented students and
encourage them to stay in school, take college-prep classes and apply
Last week, 30 high school juniors took part in a Business
Leadership Program aimed at underrepresented students. They got a
taste of life as business students -- by attending classes,
networking with corporate representatives and creating their own
advertising campaign -- and they competed for a $1,000 scholarship to
Danyelle Dillard, a counseling assistant at Montbello High School,
said it's tough to qualify for admission at CU and that only three or
four of about 200 seniors enroll at the Boulder campus each year.
"There is a perception of there not being a lot of diversity
there, and so they're kind of reluctant to go to a place where
they're going to be the minority," Dillard said. "I have to
tell them that (Montbello) is the only place where they're going to
be a majority."
Yoshinaga-Itano said financial aid is key to bringing in more
students of color, especially in the face of tuition increases. Last
year, the state provided the least money for scholarships and grants
at CU since 1998, according to university records. It was about $5
"There have been decreases in the state packages of financial
aid, and that has affected our ability to give scholarships,"
Yoshinaga-Itano said. "We're depending more on private money,
and so we're doing consistent fund-raising, but it's been difficult
because the economy has been down."
Another problem CU may face is that the state has ordered it to
halve the percentage of students it accepts below its general
admission standards by 2009. This fall, nearly a quarter of minority
students that CU has admitted fall within that admissions
'More than numbers'
Mark Giles, a diversity programs director for the Association of
American Colleges and Universities, said it's tough for anyone to
enforce diversity goals because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled
against affirmative-action plans that use quotas.
"It's illegal to say you have a 20 percent goal for minority
enrollment, so most universities will say they want to better reflect
the community they're in," he said. "And I think it's more
than numbers; it's the quality of the experience, too, and so I'm
always interested in not just enrollment but retention."
Graduation rates for minority students at CU are above the
nationwide average, according to a recent Education Trust report. CU
graduated 55 percent of its black students and 57 percent of Latino
students from the class of 1997, the most recent class for which
six-year rates are available. White students graduated at a rate of
Campus officials attribute the minority retention rates partly to
resources such as the Multicultural Engineering Program and the
Minority Arts and Sciences Program, two of 11 programs designed
specifically for minority students. The school's "academic
neighborhood" programs put small groups of underrepresented
students together in classes and include mentors, group activities
and sometimes housing.
Winter Jojola is part of the Multicultural Engineering Program,
aimed at helping underrepresented students succeed in the major.
"It helps you find a community to hang out in," said the
22-year-old, a partly American Indian student from Windsor who
aspires to be an "imagineer" for Disney. "It kind of
gives us a home base at school."
'We need to do more'
Still, the state's flagship university should at least reflect the
diversity of graduating high school seniors, said Malaika Pettigrew,
executive director of the local Institute for African-American
"I think the numbers speak for themselves," she said.
"Clearly they're not doing enough or don't have a clue what to
do and aren't willing to ask those who could give them answers."
She said black students from some other parts of the country
"enter into a cultural shock experience" when they arrive
at CU. Their white peers often assume they didn't earn their
admission academically, she said.
"CU has to really actively recruit, because the word is this
is a hostile place for people of color," Pettigrew said.
"It used to be not so much the case for athletes, but now after
the scandal I suspect a lot of athletes will be leery of coming this
way as well."
CU President Elizabeth Hoffman has acknowledged that the school is
"not making a whole lot of progress" in diversity.
Under state legislation that Gov. Bill Owens signed into law last
month, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education could be in a
position to enforce diversity goals. The agency will measure
universities' progress toward goals -- which may include enrollment
of minority groups -- and provide state money based on whether they
The agency will discuss details of its contracts with universities
over the next six months.
Regardless of state involvement, Boulder campus Chancellor Richard
Byyny said the school "needs to do more to improve diversity, no
question." He said he's asked each department to update its plan
for increasing diversity.
"We're disappointed in the number of students of color we've
been able to attract," he said. "But the students we've
been able to attract have done well."
Many programs that began within the past five years still haven't
matured enough for CU to know whether they're working, Byyny said.
For example, the school invested $400,000 a year to expand its
outreach into middle schools.
"We haven't seen those middle school students yet," he
Contact Camera Staff Writer Elizabeth Mattern Clark at (303)
473-1351 or email@example.com.