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COLUMN: IU does not adequately represent a diverse society



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Members of the Groups Scholars Program cheer as they march along Kirkwood Avenue at the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 16, 2015. Danielle Gioiosa Buy Photos

Black people are the second most populous race in the United States, making up 13.4 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of the state of Indiana is 9.4 percent African-American.

The amount of black people at IU in no way reflects those numbers.

The university needs to do more to recruit and retain black students. People should not be celebrating when such small percentages — as much as 5 and 6 percent — are reached. 

According to the IU diversity report for 2017-2018, IU reached 6.7 percent African-American enrollment in 2017. This data includes those who are multiracial, being partly African-American. That is only a 0.2-percent improvement from 2016. IU did not hit the 6 percent mark until 2015.

Despite being the largest university in Indiana, IU has always lacked diversity, and the numbers prove it. The lack of diversity is a problem often overlooked by the university which is proven by the stagnant statistics involving enrollment of black students.

This causes black students to deal with anything from subtle discrimination to blatant racism. Whether it is being the student everyone looks at when a professor utters the word slavery or being infuriated when hearing someone other than a black person says the N-word, these students experience daily struggles.

This problem is deeply rooted in the unfortunate structure of American society. America was built on racism by people who equated superiority to skin color. This issue has transcended to every aspect of life, including higher education.

Every part of the country was affected, including Bloomington.

In 1968, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Black Market, which sold books, clothing, artwork and crafts made in Africa or by black people.

The Black Market was on Kirkwood Avenue, downtown Bloomington, in the place where Peoples Park now stands.

Bloomington has a vast array of restaurants containing food from around the world. From Mediterranean to Indian to Thai, there seems to be food for everyone.

You can find food from Turkey, but where’s the soul food restaurant?

IU has made some strides to help these minority students, but it is not nearly enough.

There are scholarship programs such as Groups Scholars Program and Hudson and Holland Scholars Program which academically, financially and socially help black students.

There are diversity officers sprinkled here and there to aid minority students in being successful.

There are culture centers that act as a hub for these minority students.

But, there is only so much that can be done to enhance the experience when the numbers remain so low. The recruiting and retention of black students needs to be improved. This can be done through funding, resource improvement and heightened recruiting in areas where minority students tend to live.

 “IU is Home” is a mantra taken on by the school to “share diverse and inclusive stories of the IU Bloomington campus community.”

Viewpoints cannot be diverse when there is not an accurate and justifiable representation of a race.

A school is not doing enough to enhance the experiences of these domestic minority students when they have less representation than students from countries on the other side of the world.

Under these circumstances, IU can not be home for everyone.

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