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. From the years 2006 to 2014 the average retention rate for African American students translated to 52 students retained per year. So what exactly is contributing to these low retention rates?
Previously the assumption was that the low rates were due to lack of campus and community support for African American students. 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) and Black Students United (BSU). Three Historically Black Greek Organizations with the newest addition to the campus Alpha Kappa Sorority Inc. being chartered this semester and lastly the upcoming introduction of the Black Housing living learning program.
Graduating senior Keishell Moore describes her own experience as an African American student on this campus saying, “CSUMB’s orientation lied to me and sold me false hope because they promised me that I would be welcomed with open arms to a community who valued my presence and voice on this campus.” She like others students feel that they were sold a false picture of diversity and inclusion by the campus only to find out later that this was not the case.
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. Overall there seems to be a disconnect between black students and the campus organizations meant to provide them with support. According to Moore a lot of students that came to CSUMB her freshman year (Fall 2013) left after one year because “ they didn’t feel valued and supported on this campus”.
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. So what can be done now to help improve retention rates for African American and other minority students?
Maureen Loughran, California Faculty Association Monterey Bay chapter Campus Representative, offers a few suggestions saying “I think hiring more African-American faculty is important. And I think changing the campus climate so students don’t feel alienated is important. Possibly more bias workshops and forums”. Aside from her suggestions CSUMB is hoping to improve moral for Black students with their new back housing living learning program called the Africana Heritage Scholars which will make its debut in Fall 2017’.
Ultimately it is up to CSUMB and its partners in the CSU system to make the necessary changes to retain create the types of open, diverse and inclusive campus climates that will make minority students feel important and welcome on their campuses.