African-American student population continues to decline in CSU system

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The population of African-American students at Cal State Fullerton has been on a decline since the 2007-2008 academic year, enrollment data shows.

The number of African-American students on campus has been on a downward trend (Matt Corkill/Daily Titan).
The number of African-American students on campus has been on a downward trend (Matt Corkill/Daily Titan).

That decline may be due to a lack of knowledge about enrollment processes, CSUF’s geographic area and an increasing financial strain of attending college, university administrators said.

During the 2007-2008 year, the population of African-American students on campus was 3.48 percent. Since then, the population of black students has gone down steadily, to reach a low 2.13 percent of the campus population during the 2014-2015 school year.

The total number of students has fallen from 1,331 black students in 2007-2008 to 813 in the 2014-2015 academic year.

The most recent enrollment numbers place CSUF as the campus with the fourth lowest percentage of African-Americans of the 23-campus CSU system, according to CSU data from 2013.

Of the 446,530 students in the CSU system, 20,499 students—4.6 percent—are African-American, according to CSU enrollment statistics.

Cal State Dominguez Hills has the highest percentage of African American students, with 16.3 percent—2,385 students—of African-Americans enrolled.

The demographics of the cities surrounding CSU campuses may play a role in the corresponding population of black students, said Berenecea Johnson Eanes, vice president for student affairs.

“Some of it’s just a normal population shift because of the area we’re in and the variety of factors that impact enrollment,” Eanes said.

The percentage of African-Americans currently attending CSUF mirrors the percentage of African-Americans living in Fullerton and nearby cities.

The population of Fullerton is 2.1 percent African-American, and similar numbers are reported in surrounding cities. Brea has a 1.3 percent population of African-Americans, and 2.4 percent of the population of Anaheim is African-American. This may be the cause of the surrounding cities as well.

Carson, Compton and Gardena—three cities surrounding CSU Dominguez Hills—have higher percentages of African Americans than the cities surrounding CSUF.

Carson’s population was 23 percent black, Compton’s population was 32 percent black and Gardena’s population was 24 percent black, according to 2010 census data

As an effort to overcome the institutionalized hurdles preventing some students from attending CSUF, the university has attempted to reach out and engage students.

“There are CSU outreach efforts and there are also Cal State Fullerton outreach efforts, so we are out in high schools, we are out in the community colleges, we participate in Super Sunday,” Eanes said.

During the annual Super Sunday, CSU leaders visit African-American churches statewide to encourage young people to attend college and provide information on the opportunities available at CSU campuses. System leaders visited more than 110 churches during the most recent Super Sunday.

Those programs may not be doing enough, though, said Stan Breckenridge, Ph.D., CSUF African-American studies professor. During his own experience at a college day at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, he said, he found that students were uninformed about the process of attending college.

The true effect of the outreach programs will take some time to be realized, Eanes said.

“We won’t know if it’s working for two or three years. Any real retention work takes time,” Eanes said.

CSUF isn’t the only campus attempting to bring in more minority students. The CSU system began addressing the number of underrepresented populations about a year and half ago, according to a CSU External Relations report.

Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a fiscal plan for a $119.5 million increase in funds to The CSU and University of California system that will allow more students to enroll this upcoming year.

That proposition is still $97 million less than what CSU trustees asked for, but the funds will allow campuses to accept an extra 3,500 students. That number still falls short of the 12,000 students the CSU hoped to enroll during the 2015-2016 year, said Pat Gantt, president of the CSU Employees Union, in a release this year.

A elevation in funds for CSU’s may allow campuses to hire more faculty, creating more classes that can accommodate a higher number of students.

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