Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Black Student Retention at CSUMB

In 2011, only 8 of the 200 graduating seniors at California State University Monterey Bay were African American. According to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the retention rate refers to “ the percentage of a school’s first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year.” From the years 2006 to 2014 the average retention rate for African American students translated to 52 students retained per year. To put this statistics into perspective let’s take a look at the overall number of students who begin their college career in the year 2014. In 2014, 1,068 students started in the Fall semester and out of that number only 100 African American Students returned the next Fall.

Now the question begs to why African American students are leaving CSUMB so abruptly? With CSUMB’s vision statement promising inclusion and diversity, why is it that more African American students choose to continue their college careers elsewhere?

One factor that could be contributing to the low retention rates is student life. Let’s take a look at some of the campus resources, clubs and/ or organizations whose purpose is to provide a sense of community and support for African American students. To name a few CSUMB offers The African American Heritage Faculty Staff Alliance, which consist of a group of staff and faculty who have collaborated to provide the black community on campus with support.The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Black Students United (BSU), Two Historically Black Greek Organizations and Lastly the upcoming introduction of the Black Housing living learning program.

Another factor that could be contributing to African American students could be a lack of support from staff and faculty or feelings of exclusivity from the general body of the campus. According to the Spring 16' CSUMB Climate Survey 37% of African American/Black students have reported that they have experienced Bias, Discrimination or Harassment at CSUMB. While, 45.45% of Back students at CSUMB have experienced stereotyping or micro-aggression's on campus.

Despite the resources that are available many students still feel a lack of inclusiveness both on campus and in the surrounding communities that could ultimately be contributing to the retention rates. Furthermore, there also seems to be a lack of general knowledge and a low turnout for events hosted by BSU, NAACP and other organizations who are there to engage black students on this campus. Overall there seems to be a disconnect between black students and the campus organizations meant to provide them with support.

In the two years since the Fall 2014 semester, the campus population has grown by over 1,000 students. However, the African American population has dropped by 1%, with the Black population on campus being 7% in 2014 and dropping to 6% in 2016. The African American Heritage Faculty Staff Alliance and their partners within the Human Communications departments are hoping that through programs such as the new Black Housing Living Learning program which is now aptly named Africana Heritage Scholars, Black students will begin to feel a stronger sense of community and connection to their heritage on campus.

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