When thinking about going to college, I remember thinking that it was going to be different from high school, more diverse; I was partially right. There is a melting pot of different cultures and beauty; however, there is a particular group that is always left out: Black students.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Black students have a trending decline at California State University campuses and honestly, it’s not surprising.
In 2019, 19,384 Black students entered CSU’s — 24% fewer than in 2014. When I came to Cal Poly Pomona I thought that I would be surrounded by so many more students who looked like me. What I saw reflected my high school, still not as many Black students as there should be.
Looking around my campus, I noticed that we’re still only peppered in here and there. From Spanish class to Statistics, there have only been a few of us in a class. The only class where there were more than 10 of us was in my African American Experience class taught by Analena Hope Hassberg.
In only that one class did I meet people that could relate to me on some level. There was no feeling like the odd one out, which I think some Black students feel even in college. I never felt like I was being stared at or examined in that class.
During my transition from high school to college, I thought about attending an HBCU. Studying at a school where so much history happened just seemed extraordinary. Surrounded by generations of Black history of men and women that fought to establish their own excellence despite what society believed.
However, I chose instead to go to a CSU believing that there would be an equal diversity of students on campus. In reality, I felt like a black sheep all over again surrounded by a sea of people that would never understand. The number of Black students attending Cal Poly Pomona has been at 3% over the past seven years and only now are schools wondering why there is a decline.
I was disappointed by the lack of Black students that I know could thrive and excel here. Though there are more of us at Cal Poly Pomona than back home in Palm Desert, it’s not enough.
Growing up in the desert, it always felt like I was on display. I was surrounded by older people who have some backward ways of thinking, who are watching me in the store.
Going away to school seemed like an escape to venture out of my valley and explore. I thought being in a university that prides itself on diversity would do more to help Black students rise.
I’m not the only one who thinks that CSUs can do more to reach out to Black students. Fellow Black students and I have discussed that we don’t always feel the most cared for on campus. A friend of mine believes that Cal Poly Pomona doesn’t do enough for black students.
During students’ middle school and high school years, they’re figuring out where they want to pursue higher education. If you help young Black students and inform them that our school is an option, I think they would apply.
Another way CSUs could grow their Black student population is by having scholarships for Black students. If the schools have scholarships, that’s great, but they should promote that the money is there for students who apply. College is expensive, even CSUs.
Creating a place where students can access resources is essential. It would make me feel like the school cared about me attending the school. Being in an atmosphere that makes you feel like you matter and that your success is valued matters the most.
To the students in high school that are trying to figure out what university to go to let me give you some advice. When you make this decision think about who you want to surround yourself with. Pick a school that will make you feel like you can be your most authentic self. The school you choose should always be trying to spread positivity and equality.
A higher learning institute should be the place where we grow and a place open minded toward everyone.
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