More must be done for UK to diversify

The praise UK is receiving for the increased black enrollment can only be described as premature.

While the university should be proud of its 1 percent increase, there is much work yet to be done. This work not only includes black students, but also students of every minority group.

For example, there was a minimal increase of 17 Hispanic freshmen to the university, making the total a jaw-dropping 61 out of 4,044 freshmen, according to a Wednesday Kernel article. This doesn’t even put a dent in the 18,995 undergraduate students.

Are the diversity efforts of the university working to increase just black enrollment? What is being done to lure students from other minority groups to our campus?

Obviously, this is not enough. A 1 percent increase is a positive step, but when the enrollment of non-minority students also rises, the university isn’t really making any progress in terms of diversity.

More students are obviously interested in attending the school since undergraduate applications increased by 4.7 percent, according to figures released by the university on Tuesday.

To reach the goals of UK President Lee Todd’s Top 20 Business Plan, UK and its admissions department must continue with their efforts to make sure our minority students don’t feel like minorities on campus.

Campus diversity isn’t just about enrollment, either. It’s about integrating minorities into UK and making them feel welcome. It’s about lessening the racial tensions between all races present on campus. Most minority students would probably say UK isn’t doing such a great job of that.

The resignation of Mahjabeen Rafiuddin was a major blow to campus diversity, but Judy “J.J.” Jackson will be a more than adequate replacement once she gets acclimated to what goes on here every day.

The university administration needs a better understanding of what draws minorities to certain schools, and how they can achieve this.

Furthermore, if UK truly wishes to be top 20 in diversity, the students need to play an integral role. Make blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans and every other minority feel welcome. Make them feel like they “fit in.” And students of all races need to get involved in diversity events. Make it a priority to help minority students feel welcome. In time, it can become a passion, not a chore.

The result of this will be higher retention, which is a primary goal for every race, not just minorities. If our top-20 goal is to be realized, we need retention rates in the 90s, according to Provost Kumble Subbaswamy.

Campus diversity is attainable. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It will take hard work from students, faculty and administration. But it will also be a rewarding process for everyone involved.