UK slower to diversify than other schools

By Lincoln Riddle

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As diversity among nationwide universities spike, UK continues to show a slow rise in diversifying its campus, according to statistics.

Since 2000 college enrollment is up 37.3 percent nationwide with a sharp increase in minority students, according to Hispanics have seen the largest increase in students at 87.5 percent, while African-Americans fall in just behind them with an increase of 75.6 percent. Though there has been an increase in minorities’ enrollments, Caucasians still make up 60.5 percent of the college population.

Even more interesting is the increase in female students as opposed to male students. Since 2000 there has been a rise in the number of female students nationwide. In 2010 there were roughly 11.9 million female students enrolled in college, while 9 million male students were enrolled.

In comparison, UK has not seen as sharp of a rise in diversity among students. The school’s website lists that White/Caucasians make up 78.4 percent of students at UK, African-Americans have the second-largest student population at 6.6 percent, and Hispanics make up around 2.1 percent of students on the university’s campus.

Since 2000 UK has seen a increase in its African-American student population from 1,310 in 2000 to 1,862 in 2010. Hispanics have seen a rise from 183 in 2000 to 599 in 2010. Women and men remain on a level playing field, with nearly 49 percent male students and 51 percent female.

Some who study the subject, such as Judy “J.J.” Jackson, vice president for institutional diversity, think it is difficult to say whether UK matches the national averages or falls short of them.

“To look at the large percentages is wrong, the percentages are big but we are starting small,” Jackson said. “UK may not be above the national average, but we strive to and keep breaking our own records.”

This year was UK’s largest and most diverse class yet. This was the fourth year in a row that UK had increased enrollment.

Record numbers were set for African-American students enrolled, as well as international students enrolled at the university.

“The university is certainly making grounds on the problems of not being diverse enough,” Jackson said.

Roger Sugarman, the director of institutional research, finds that overall African-American as well as Hispanic populations have increased faster than the total student body at UK, but not as high as the nationwide averages.

“The overall student population increased 17.8 percent over this 10-year period (2000-10),” Sugarman said. “However, African-American enrollment increased 42.1 percent in that 10 years time. Hispanic enrollment jumped 227.3 percent in that 10 years time as well.”

Kyle Rogers, a junior at UK, thinks that UK becoming more diverse is important for the universities future.

“I am not too concerned with whether or not we are above average or below average. I am just glad UK is trying to diversify itself,” Rogers said. “I believe it is critical to the future of the school, especially if UK wants to become one of the best schools in the nation.”

The university has put fourth several ways of diversifying its campus, such as the William C. Parker Diversity Scholarship.

The issue also is addressed in UK President Eli Capilouto’s “Kentucky Promise,” with Capilouto saying he wants to become more diverse, have many different backgrounds and many different origins.

UK continues to make attempts to further diversify its campus, with initiatives such as the UK Commission on Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion. This commission contains task forces aimed at a specific group, and provide relief and help not only for students but for faculty.