CSUs look to increase minority enrollment
February 21, 2008 9:51 AM
Speaking at more than 30 churches throughout the Bay Area, presidents, chancellors and faculty representing the California State University system joined local pastors this past weekend to take part in the “Super Sunday” recruiting program, an event held annually in an attempt to attract potential students to the statewide colleges.
CSU’s “Super Sunday” is a program of Chancellor Charles Reed, in which representatives of the educational system engage in grassroots recruiting by speaking at numerous black churches throughout California.
A similar event takes place annually in Southern California as well. The recruiting program, in its third year, aims to target parents of students who may not be aware of the opportunities for higher education and financial aid.
“Education is the cornerstone of society,” said Cal State Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani to Sunday worshipers gathered at San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church in the Western Addition. “I am here today to inform those students who don’t know about the opportunity for higher learning and financial aid that exists.”
SF State President Robert A. Corrigan, who spoke at Providence Baptist Church in San Francisco’s Bayview District, touched on the S.F. Promise program, an initiative created in conjunction between SF State and the city of San Francisco to ensure that all academically eligible students automatically gain entry into SF State.
“[The program is for students] who do the work, who get the grades, who graduate high school...we guarantee we will provide you with a college education. Financial need will not be a factor. There will be scholarships. There will be aid,” Corrigan said to booming applause.
Shirvani hailed the annual “Super Sunday” event as “wildly successful.” He cited a 6.5 percent increase of the black student population throughout the CSU system last fall, a statistic Shirvani attributes to the recruiting efforts of CSU officials.
However, despite the efforts to increase racial diversity at CSU campuses, the ratio of black students to the overall student population remains stagnant at 6 percent, according to a CSU study released in January.
Here at SF State, the ratio of black students to other minorities has actually dropped over the last 10 years. In 1998, 7.9 percent of the student population was black. Last fall, black students constituted about 6.7 percent of the student population on campus, according to admissions office reports.
Students on campus expressed frustration over the seeming oversight in recruiting by CSU officials.
“It’s an image thing,” said Coby Obiesie, a finance major who is a member of the Black Student Union. “Many of my friends who have applied to SF State have been denied. It’s seems as though they are just trying to fill a quota to make the system look good.”
Another student, Angelita Honeycutt, agreed.
“It seems like if they really wanted to create real diversity, they would put forth more effort than a once-a-year event to reach kids here in the city,” she said.
At Third Baptist Church, Pastor Amos Brown called on his fellow worshipers to celebrate Black History Month by stressing the value of education to children and asked parents to be the catalyst for change in the community.
“Many of our traditional black colleges were founded in the basements of churches,” he said during the spirited sermon, briefly pausing to ensure that his point resonated. “They became institutions that were to teach us and prepare us for the realities of life.
“Today’s young people must be able to realize the value that an education has, and that this education is within reach,” he added.
Brown, who attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, was taught by Martin Luther King, Jr. in social philosophy at the historically black school. He said he sees the need for community assistance if the CSU recruiting programs are to be successful.
“We all have a shared responsibility,” Brown said. “We need to support the efforts of CSU, and through community teamwork we will all be able to succeed.”
Additional reporting by staff writer Adam Loraine and editor in chief David DeBolt.
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