Colleges seek minorities to add diversity

When freshman Sean Jamison was applying to schools, GW was the last place he thought he would spend his college years.

He was recruited by top-tier schools on the East coast, was offered free trips to university campuses and was being treated like a king – just about everywhere but here.

The only reason I ended up here was because I wanted to be in D.C., Jamison said.

Like many minorities entering college, Jamison was a wanted person. While the practice of recruiting minorities is nothing new for many colleges, an increased amount of attention is being given to the more elaborate recruiting schemes.

I felt that if a school was elaborately recruiting minorities, it showed that they wanted a diverse campus, Jamison said. And that is the kind of campus I wanted to be on.

Highlighting the recent attention to minority college recruiting was an Oct. 25 front-page New York Times article that detailed a recent trip of minority students to Brown University’s Black experience at Brown. The trip included a free train ride, free housing and free food for the weekend.

Associate Director of Admissions Sammie Robinson said he was recruited when he was entering college.

I was a graduate of the D.C. public schools in 1971 and was recruited the same way many of the minorities are being recruited today, Robinson said. I was offered plenty of free trips.

Robinson said GW doesn’t have a policy on the number of minorities it strives to admit in each class. He said many schools in the New England area run such programs because of the low minority population in the area, which can lead to having few minorities on campus.

We are fortunate because we have a sizable and diverse student population, Robinson said. But we definitely want to be pro-active in keeping it like that. And we are discussing the possibilities of having a special weekend. But it probably will not be to the extent that such universities as Brown (University) have gone.

Some GW students said other schools tried to entice them with free weekends to make their campuses more diversified.

Ohio State, Wittenburg, Case-Western Reserve, Babson College all gave me a free weekend, freshman Janeen Gavin said. They really needed us too. Because on some of those campuses we rarely saw a black person the whole weekend.

I have just come to understand that I am black, and that people want me, Gavin said. So I tell them to come get me.

Some minority students at GW said they were not offered free weekends but said schools tried to convince them that their campuses were diverse when scouting colleges.

When I got my SAT scores back, I also started getting a lot of mail like everyone else, freshman Laura White said. Except my mail was all about the different minority programs that the different colleges offered. They all wanted to convince me that they had a diverse campus.

I was never really recruited, but I think it had a lot to do with what schools I applied to, freshman Vikas Gupta said. Most of the schools I applied to were in this area, and I didn’t get any free trips.

Some opponents of minority recruitment cite inequity as a reason why the practice should not exist.

I just think it is wrong if someone works their butt off to get an `A,’ but the person who got the `B’ gets into the school and the `A’ person doesn’t, just because the `B’ person is a minority, White said.

Others said they think minority recruitment only has the potential to help.

There is no way that a pro-`one-group’ stance can have a negative effect on another, Robinson said. A lot of people view that this sort of thing is negative, and that is unfortunate.

Robinson said it is important to have minorities on campus to create a well-rounded education.

Part of a college education is what you learn from the people around you, Robinson said.

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