Minorities on the rise at CMU, behind nearby schools

Although Central Michigan University's minority population has grown over the past decade, it remains populated by one of the largest concentrations of white students among Michigan universities.

With 79.7 percent of its on-campus student population registered as white, CMU has seen that total steadily decrease from 86 percent in 2003.

“I think (CMU) is more diverse than people give it credit,” New Jersey senior Perry Watkins said. “One might say it’s not as diverse, but we have people here from all over the country. If you consider diversity as broader than race, it’s more diverse than people think.”

Black and Latino populations have contributed to the growth.

African-Americans have grown as a share of the student population from 4.2 percent in 2003 to 6 percent this fall. The Latino population has also grown in size to 2.6 percent, compared with 2003’s total of 1.7 percent.

Watkins said CMU’s high concentration of white students is a result of its location and regional focus.

“When you consider the amount of Caucasians overall in Michigan compared to African-Americans, the numbers don’t surprise me at all,” he said. “We have a lot of locals here. CMU is one of those schools that, because of its location, is not as diverse color-wise.”

Grand Valley State University has a white concentration of 88 percent, while Eastern Michigan University totaled 64.9 percent. Michigan State University was at 67.4 percent for Fall 2013.

“(CMU) is definitely not nearly as diverse as other schools,” Frankenmuth senior Andrew Haubenstricker said. “But I feel like (diversity) is growing, but there’s still a clear, strong majority. It’s visible.”

Carleton senior Brett Rossio thinks CMU should stay the way it is. The meteorology major feels the university is at a good place when considering racial diversity and worries about over-compensating for perceived inequalities.

“Diversity is good, as long as it doesn’t make things difficult,” Rossio said. “I don’t think it should increase or decrease. I’m really satisfied with where it’s at. We’re at a happy medium.”

According to D’Wayne Jenkins, assistant director of cultural programming at CMU’s Office of Multicultural Academic Student Services, Mount Pleasant has plenty of room for increasing diversity.

“There’s always room for growth within other ethnic groups,” Jenkins said. “Mount Pleasant is a small town, but they’re working on it. They’re making strides to build a better community overall. It’s definitely a process.”

Through the promotion of ethnic-themed campus events and academic programming, Jenkins hopes CMU will continue to recruit more progressively. His office directs each culturally-themed month celebrated at CMU and puts on a “unified holiday event” in the winter.

Jenkins said recruitment efforts are not only looking to address ethnic diversity, but other classifications – such as sexual orientation – as well.

“We try to promote our programming as much as possible,” Jenkins said. “Recent efforts in admissions are looking to make Central more diverse and recruit more diverse students overall – not just ethnically, but students from across the board of different backgrounds.”

Jenkins said growth of CMU’s minority populations is unavoidable as nationwide societal norms continue to change.

“If CMU is going to mirror what American society is going through, growth is inevitable,” he said. “It spills out into the community. I feel very optimistic, but nothing is going to change overnight. As society is faced with more diverse issues, Central will continue to recruit and promote more diversity"


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