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Report: UI minority enrollment up, but work remains


A new study shows many flagship universities across the country have low enrollment of African-American and Latino students, yet the University of Iowa shows a slight rise in first-time degree-seeking students from those minority populations, according to a story from the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.

The study by the Hechinger Report, which covers enrollment in 2010 to 2015, shows the University of Iowa’s first-time, degree-seeking Latino student enrollment grew from 5 percent of all students to 9 percent in that period, while African-American first-time degree enrollment rose from 2 percent of the student body to 4 percent. 

Despite the increase, minority students interviewed by IowaWatch said UI could do more to cultivate a culture of diversity and create a safer learning environment for African-American and Latino students on campus.

African-American students, for example, face micro-aggressions or hostile racial slights daily, said Matthew Bruce, a 22-year-old senior from Des Moines. They include food served at residence halls that caters to white students, how people react to what black students wear, being told to change your tone of voice and implications that your dreadlocks aren’t appropriate for a job fair.

“There’s no room for people to look different. There’s kind of, in my opinion, a culture of assimilation, for sure, like to be a Hawkeye looks like this, sounds like this,” Bruce said.

Moreover, the current political environment surrounding hot-button matters such as U.S. immigration policy and race relations has contributed to minority students’ general feelings of discomfort on campus, the IowaWatch interviews show. Bruce noted a white nationalist flyer was found recently on the door of the university’s Afro-American Cultural Center.

The University of Iowa was the only Iowa college or university covered in the Hechinger Report survey.

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