The number of black students rose to 72 this year following an upward trend in the enrollment of students of color.
According to the office of institutional research, Mills has seen a steady increase in the number of black students since the 1999-2000 school year when 52 enrolled.
Kristin Black, a student on the planning committee board for Black History Month said the college has fared far better than most colleges in recruiting black students, as black enrollment at other schools is typically one percent or less.
“The number of African American women on campus is slowly but surely increasing. I believe that Avis, the dean of admissions is making a great effort to increase the population of Mills as well as the presence of women of color on campus,” said Black .
Lisa McRipley the director of student diversity programs who has been an integral part of planning this year’s Black History Month celebration. She has been accredited with boosting understanding and activities on campus which draw students of color to Mills by students and faculty. McRipley said Mills is one of the most racially diverse liberal arts schools in the country.
“Unlike last year, there are events every week on campus that students are made aware of and can attend to learn more about and recognize the importance of African American history,” said Black.
Despite organizers’ efforts to focus the celebration on the history of black women at Mills, some feel that the visibility of black women on campus does not reflect the diverse community surrounding Mills.
“Because Oakland is the school’s community, it just doesn’t make sense that more students of color don’t go here,” said Junior Shasta Norris.
“Mills could be doing a better job at recruiting women of color in urban areas, especially in Oakland,” said Black.
“The most important thing is that this is always an on-going process,” said admissions officer Jessica Oviedo. “I cannot express how important it is that the whole campus community support the efforts of the admission office.”
Admissions efforts to recruit black students currently include visiting high schools and attending college fairs with ethnic and racial minority demographics.
Admissions counselors visit inner city schools in Oakland and Los Angeles, as well as participate in and support organizations that help students of color,
like ‘A Better Chance Foundation,’ where the college purchases prospective student names .
According to senior Elana Sobol, the issue of black
enrollment is about more than recruiting.
“[It’s about] how students of color are institutionally supported, its also about retaining students of color once they’re here,” she said.