Opinion: ASU needs to invest more in its minority students

ASU is lacking a space and enough resources for minority students to feel they can succeed

Going to college was always an expectation for me — which isn’t uncommon for those with parents who attended college. However, for minority students like me, college may seem out of reach. 

As I continued through school, I knew I was in the small percentage of minority students going to college and a part of the even smaller percentage of minority students that become second-generation college students.

Regardless of the fact that I am a second-generation student, I felt like there were no places for me to thrive as a minority student at ASU. I know organizations such as the Black African Coalition exist, but it is student-run, and, like any other organization, it can be hard to smooth out all the kinks.

Sure, there are services like TRIO and the First-Year Success Center, but they may not be able to reach the students who need help the most. 

However, I don't qualify for the services that these programs provide. Whenever I found myself struggling, both academically and socially, I didn't know where to turn to on campus.

Quite frankly, ASU needs to invest more in support systems for its minority student population. 

It’s hard enough to come to a new environment that is unlike anything some students may have experienced before. It's even harder for them to succeed when it seems like no one is looking out for them. 

Other large universities, such as University of Texas-Austin, have a Multicultural Engagement Center. The center offers services, such as leadership and development opportunities, and social-justice and education trainings and, as part the school's diversity initiative, supports minority students.

This center, which is advertised as a "home away from home" where minority students can be connected resources, is something that ASU doesn't seem to offer in any similar form.

"It's tough enough to navigate college," said Laila Kabongi, a member of Multicultural Solidarity Coalition, which serves as a place for students to come together to discuss various issues impacting minorities on campus. "When black and brown students are having trouble navigating school, there is no place for them to go."

Kabongi, a senior studying health sciences, said she understands that there are resources on campus made to help minority students, but in her experience, they tend to be underdeveloped or understaffed. 

According to the 2017 study conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, black students recorded the lowest completion rate after six years at an institution, at 45.9 percent, and Latinx students completion rate was at 55 percent. For Black and Latinx students who attend college, their completion rates are lower than their white counterparts in four year institutions. 

“College can be a hostile environment for minority students,” said Nathan Martin, an associate professor at the School of Social Transformation, who has studied inequality in postsecondary education. “The climate can directly impact other things, like GPA.” 

In a 2014 study conducted by Harvard University’s Voices of Diversity Project, minority students on campus still think they are part of a "chilly climate" on campus, meaning they don’t feel as welcomed. 

Martin added that college may be the first time that minority students have been in a "good" school that has the resources and rigor their previous schooling didn't provide. Some are expected to be capable of skills they may not be familiar with, he said.

Minority students are more likely to take remedial courses than their racial counterparts, which can lead them to spend more time in school. 

Action on the University’s end doesn’t need to come in the form of creating a new club or a center that students can visit. Instead, ASU needs to back up its statement that it is a diverse university by bolstering its programs and services intended to support its minority students.


Reach the reporter at Barbara.Smith.3@asu.edu or follow @barbarasmiith on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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