Minority enrollment rate varies based on different calculations

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While new minority enrollment numbers available from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for the 2003-’04 freshman class show little variation from numbers previously reported, different ways of calculating the percent change can lead to conflicting results.

Previously it was reported that the 2002-’03 freshman minority enrollment rate was 13.9 percent, compared to a minority enrollment rate of 11.2 percent of this year’s freshman class. The difference, according to administrators, represented a minority enrollment rate decrease of 2.7 percent. This calculation could also be considered a percentage point decrease, rather than an actual rate decrease.

Finalized numbers now show that the freshman minority enrollment rate for 2002-’03 was 14.6 percent, compared with a 12 percent freshman minority rate for 2003-’04. This difference represents a minority enrollment rate decrease of 2.6 percent, according to the standard formula used by administration.

However, another way of calculating the minority enrollment rate decrease, using the actual number of minority students in this year’s and last year’s freshman classes, shows a more dramatic difference.

According to the finalized statistics, there were 271 minority students enrolled in last year’s freshman class of 1,852 students. This number includes 96 Asian students, 86 black students, 84 Hispanic students and five American Indian students.

Out of the 1,883 students enrolled in this year’s freshman class, there are 226 minority students, including 82 Asian students, 76 black students, 65 Hispanic students and three American Indian students. The numbers show a decrease of 45 freshman minority students from last year to this year.

The decrease of 45 minority students shows a minority enrollment decrease of 16.6 percent, calculated by dividing the difference in the number of freshman minority students between this year and last year by the total number of freshman minority students from last year (45 divided by 271).

According to Roby Blust, dean of undergraduate admissions, the reason why the administration uses the enrollment rates rather than actual numbers to calculate changes in minority enrollment is because it is more accurate for the purpose of comparison.

“Because classes change in size too, we’re trying to get a sense of relationship,” Blust said. “If we say we have ‘X’ number of minority students, there’s no way to compare because it’s not relative to the size of the class. Since we report the percentage of the class every year, that’s the number we compare it to.

“We’re certainly aware that we were down 45 minority students this year. We have to replace that number in next year’s class.”

Another reason for the chosen way of reporting the number is for comparison to other universities.

Ben Tracy, director of university communication, said the university reports the minority enrollment rate of the freshman class each year, which gives potential students a way to compare Marquette’s enrollment statistics to universities with smaller and larger enrollment sizes.

“We feel it’s the most accurate way to report the minority population of any given class,” Tracy said. “We report it that way every year regardless of whether there’s a decrease or an increase” in minority enrollment.

While 16.6 percent seems to be a much larger decrease in the number of freshman minority students when compared with 2.6 percent, as calculated by university standards, it is important to note that the number of freshman minority students in both this year’s and last year’s classes is small compared with the total number of freshmen in both classes. Thus, a small decrease in the number of students would still show a significant percentage decrease.

Blust said no specific cause for the decline in minority enrollment has been pinpointed, but the administration hopes to find some clues after evaluating admitted student surveys, which are sent to students who were accepted to Marquette but chose not to attend. Blust said he expects the results of the surveys, which have been returned, to be ready by the end of the semester.

Blust also said funding of scholarships for minority students did not decrease, and therefore was not a factor in the decline.

Senior Ian Mateo, president of the Bayanihan Student Organization, a Filipino student group, said he has noticed a decline in the number ofFilipino members.

“I’ve noticed in our organization that the number of students who are actually Filipino has decreased,” Mateo said. He said while he does not know if the decrease is due to less Filipino students attending Marquette or to fewer Filipino students joining the organization, he said he has noticed fewer Filipino students on campus.

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