GW is one of the top 25 best colleges for black students, according to Black Enterprise magazine, climbing seven spaces from No. 31 in 2001.
The January 2003 issue of Black Enterprise ranked the University No. 24 in its third biennial list of the 50 Best Colleges for African Americans. The rankings relied on a survey of 1,855 black professionals in higher education, who rated the universities based on their educational and social environments for black students.
Historically black institutions dominated the high end of the list, with Morehouse College, Hampton University and Spelman College occupying the top three spots, respectively. D.C.’s Howard University followed at No. 4 and Georgetown University took the No. 9 position.
Black Student Union President Chibonne Romney, a senior, said she feels GW has been working to provide a good environment for black students.
“I’ve really seen things improve, not just for African Americans but for all minorities,” Romney said. “I’m really impressed by what the University has done over the years … It seems like they care a lot about their minority populations.”
She said she has seen support from administrators and an increasing amount of minority professors.
The ranking computation combined a school’s average survey scores based on social and academic environment with its 2001 ranking and the percentage of black undergraduates. The magazine reviewed 482 universities with black student enrollment of at least 3 percent.
GW received an academic survey score of 3.36 and a social survey score of 3.08 out of a possible four. Although black students make up only six percent of the student body at GW, Black Enterprise Editor-in-Chief Alfred Edmond said he sees some advantages for black students at a predominantly white university.
“There is an advantage, in that going to a more mainstream university you’re likely to encounter an environment that prepares you for the corporate world, where you are going to be a minority,” Edmond said. “Unfortunately, six percent is actually rather high. It shows you how far we have to go.”
Edmond said that many schools provide a comfortable atmosphere for their black students but “need to reach out and try and make this part of their overall reputation.”
This year’s list was the third survey published by Black Enterprise, which decided in 1999 to distinguish those schools that were specifically well-suited for black students.
“The idea was to find the best type of schools for African Americans without relying on merely the traditional criteria for a good school,” Edmond said. Freshman Tricha Ippiah, who came to GW after attending a predominantly black boarding school, said she was pleasantly surprised by the racial diversity on campus.
“I came here with an open mind, not exactly wanting to stay within my bubble,” Ippiah said. “I thought I would be the only black girl in my classes, but that wasn’t true.”
However, Romney said that while she thinks black students are generally happy, “one of the biggest complaints” she hears regards the number of minority instructors on campus.
“I think overall sentiments are high, but a lot of people would like to see more diversity among the professors,” she said.
As of last year, minorities made up 16 percent of GW’s full-time professors, according to a February 2002 Hatchet article. GW’s total student population is about 30 percent minority students, according to the Office of Institutional Research.
However, Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said last February that, “in the future, (GW hopes to) have a better balance to reflect the student population” but that “things can’t change overnight.”
-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.