GVSU reports show low number of minority students

By Amelia Pasqualone | 10/8/17 11:47pm

Grand Valley State University is experiencing low numbers of minority students, both transfers and incoming freshmen, according to the 2017 incoming class profiles from the Office of Institutional Analysis.

Student profiles dating back to 2000 show that white transfer students have outnumbered minority transfer students for 17 years. It was recorded that there are 1,261 non-minority transfer students out of the 1,625 that transferred this year. The three least-represented ethnic groups within the transfer student population are Native Hawaiian, American Indian and Asian. 

Amela Mandzukic, a student senator at GVSU, believes the university is doing a good job to sustain diversity but that there is always more work that can be done. 

“I think there is always room for improvement when it comes to making a community more diverse," Mandzukic said. "I’m sure the numbers are correct, but compared to other schools, it seems that Grand Valley is overall a very welcoming and diverse school."

As for the incoming class of FTIAC (first time in any college) students, the 2017 profile shows that white students also outnumber every ethnicity in this demographic. In fact, only four percent of the incoming class is African-American, the lowest percentage in 10 years. Since last year, there has been an obvious decrease in the number of minority students coming to GVSU as first-year students. 

Jesse Bernal, vice president for inclusion and equity at GVSU, has noticed the trend in non-minority students on campus but is optimistic for more diversity in the future. 

“We are constantly working on ways to make Grand Valley more diverse," Bernal said. "We want our environment to be accepting for people of all races, genders and classes. Our climate survey conducted in 2015 shows that students of color do have disparities with the lack of diversity at Grand Valley, but we’ve been taking action to ensure all feel welcome at Grand Valley."

In September, GVSU President Thomas Haas released a statement over email on his stance regarding the federal government’s decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  

“Engagement with the world is a hallmark of Grand Valley, and it has my absolute support; maintaining it is one of my most important duties as your president," Haas said in the statement.

“We have identified the actions we need to take," Bernal said. "The aspect of the work I do is strategic and thoughtful with an equity-and-inclusion lens. We operate with a diverse community in mind and will continue to evolve."

While the white student population of transfers and incoming freshmen is larger than for other ethnicities, it was reported on the GVSU Diversity Dashboard that almost every graduated ethnic group rated its experience at GVSU a 3.3 (out of 4) or higher on average. This means that the majority of students, regardless of race, believe they have benefited from their time at GVSU.

“There are countless resources for students of color on our campus," Bernal said. "We have centers, safe spaces and clubs all created with diversity in mind. We hope everyone uses and benefits from these resources to learn about diversity within our campus."

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