CSUSB Dwindling Black Student Enrollment
By Dianne Anderson
Excitement over this year’s graduating class is running at peak high for Cal State University San Bernardino, alongside its polar opposite around Black student enrollment, which is scraping bottom.
As they say, the numbers don’t lie.
For Walter Hawkins, a retired CSUSB data analyst, the dwindling numbers of Black students at the university is cause for alarm, given that San Bernardino County has the second highest statewide Black student K-12 public school enrollment after Los Angeles.
Hawkins, a member of the Westside Action Group, has spent a lifetime analyzing data, and says the huge declining enrollment of Black students at Cal State University, San Bernardino is disturbing.
“Our concern is that it is dropping precipitously,” he said. “In the past ten years, the university has grown by 20 percent, the Hispanic enrollment has grown by 109 percent, and Blacks have reduced by 47 percent.”
WAG is concerned about the huge drop at CSUSB in African American students across the board, from freshmen to graduates. He feels the enrollment details are not as urgent for administrators because general enrollment has grown overall for the university.
In the 2007-08 school year, there were 2,057 Black students, representing about 13 percent of the university. At last count, it was down to just 1088 students, representing about 5 percent of total enrollees, he said, adding that it should realistically run from 9 to 13 percent enrollment.
“From 2057 students 10 years ago, dropped down to 1,088. That’s 1,088 out of a little over 21,000 students. That’s ridiculous,” Hawkins said.
The recently implemented legislation, AB 1936, offers hope. The CSU system is now revising its higher education master plan. Originally, the CSU master plan started in 1960, and updated in the 1970s. The legislation is now calling for public input statewide.
He said the CSU system should be recruiting the top 33 percent of high school graduates as the eligibility pool. By contrast, the UC system, which represents recruitment of the top 13 percent of high school graduates, has seen a strong local boost to its UCR Black enrollment, indicates that successful outreach is possible.
WAG feels that an action plan is needed because there is no existing metric to compare the numbers, or floor for minimum expectation.
“Right now, Cal State [San Bernardino] can say, hey, we’re doing great, we have 108 black students. We’re saying compared to what?” he said.
Full-time African American freshmen at CSUSB should have been at least double the current enrollment, he said. Although Black student enrollment has dropped in the K-12 public school population, Black high school graduations with their completed A-G requirements are not only high, but have actually increased over the years.
While more work at the school district level is also needed to prepare Black students for higher education, he emphasized there are currently ample Black students in the available pool, and they are not getting in the door.
Over the years, WAG has met with members of the legislature about a master plan and enforceable regulations on targeted recruitment for all colleges, not just for CSUSB. In the past, he said CSUSB had stronger outreach, and captured the data broken down by target and race.
On average, Hawkins said the university replaces 27 percent of students that drop out or leave each year, and that there needs to be more attention to re-balancing goals. Mostly, replacements come in as freshmen or community college transfers, followed by returning students.
Despite WAG attempts to work closely with the university, he said nothing hasn’t moved the needle so far. Their other concern is that there are two Black females to every Black male on campus.
WAG is soon to release and distribute its report to the community to start the dialogue and address the issue. He said the report is not to blame the university, but to set goals, and work more closely with the community to achieve success.
“It’s not about pointing fingers, just fixing the problem,” he said. “We have a lot of bright students here. They should have the opportunity.”