The number of early action applications for Black students at the University of Virginia has dropped this year, officials said recently. Why?
The white supremacy- charged chaos in Charlottesville back in August may be to blame for having halted progress for African American students. The amount of Black high school students who applied for early action is slightly lower than last year’s, in the wake of the violent nationalist rallies, Greg Roberts, dean of admissions, explained to The Daily Progress. Essentially, early action is a pipeline to rapid acceptance at the university.
“It’s the only group that’s lower,” Roberts said about African American students. “The events in August are certainly on people’s minds.”
Though the school made gains with a record level of early-action applications among other racial groups this fall, Black students’ applications lagged behind their counterparts.
Considering lower early-action rates among Blacks, it should then come as no surprise that most first-time students, a total of 3,788, who enrolled in August were majority white. The university registered only 344 Black first-year students or about nine percent of the class, roughly equivalent to the percentage of African-American first-years in 2016, according to The Daily Progress. Fewer enrollment offers were made to Blacks this spring as compared with last spring, however, those students accepted their offers at a higher rate.
The university has worked on increasing matriculation among minority students in recent years, officials have said. There was a 45% increase in first-year African American student enrollment in the past five years, as compared to an 8% increase for the total class during that period, Marcus Martin, UVA vice president and the university’s chief officer for diversity, said to USA Today in August following the Charlottesville rallies.
However, with the decline in Black students’ early applications this year and acceptances not finalized for next year yet, it is unclear just how more diverse the student body will become for the 2018-2019 year.
What is clear is that the lower number of Black students at UVA fits into a pattern that suggests majority-white schools do not have truly safe spaces for students of color. Calls for Black-only spaces at certain colleges, including the University of Michigan, and inclusive campuses have been a result of that marginalization.
UVA students have protested this “subjugation of unrepresentative communities” on campus after Charlottesville and most likely will keep raising their voices in the future.