Panel calls for greater diversity

Several students and officials said at a Friday panel that GW needs to make greater efforts to increase its minority population.

Since 1993, the black student population at GW graduate schools has risen from 5.6 to 9.8 percent, said panelist Carol Sigelman, associate vice president for research and graduate studies.

While Sigelman said she is pleased with the increase, students said GW should be more active in its recruitment tactics.

“Any increase in minority population is good,” said L. Trenton Marsh, president of the Graduate Black Student Association, which organized the event. “Now the administration should listen to what we have to say.”

Graduate student Flora Amankwah said she noticed a lack of diversity on campus before attending classes.

“When I came here for my interview session I was the only African-American in the pool, and I had heard that GW was a diverse community,” she said. “There must be even greater attention paid to recruitment of minorities.”

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development, for example, has a 20 percent black population and a 30 percent student of color population, said Debra Harris, director of admissions for the school.

“This does not mean the battle is over but shows that it needs to be continued,” she told the approximately 50 faculty members and students at the event.

Harris said the school has done “heavy recruitment” in the New York area and other metropolitan cities, along with traditionally black universities.

Marsh said his organization planned Thursday’s event after reading about GW’s ranking in Black Enterprise magazine as one of the top 25 universities for black students last year.

Panelist Talib Hudson, a senior and prospective graduate student, said the methods by which the ranking is made completely leave the student population voiceless.

“This ranking does not reflect how the students feel,” Hudson said. “If you look at their methodology for picking these schools, you see that it is based on administrator questionnaires and location.”

Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center and one of 10 panelists at the event, said the University should market itself to show that students of all races are welcome.

“Appearance, policy and communication,” he said. “When students read about us they hear things about diversity, but when you come to campus you don’t see welcoming signals to that population.”

Tapscott suggested setting up a listserv for all minority graduate students so they can learn about social and career development events.

Organizers said they were pleased with the discussion.

“This event is not meant to down GW,” Marsh said. “It is meant to add knowledge to the campus and foster a dialogue between graduate students and their administrators.”

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