Posted Oct. 20, 2008

The number of underrepresented minorities in the University’s 2008 freshman class dropped slighty, according to final enrollment statistics released Monday morning.

The percentage of underrepresented minorities enrolled, 10.4, is a small drop from last year, when 10.8 percent of the freshman class was comprised of the same groups.

The 2008 class marks the first full wave of enrollees affected by Proposal 2, which banned the use of race- and gender-based affirmative action in the state back in 2006. The ban was implemented in 2007, but only after the University was halfway through its admission cycle, likely lessening the ban’s impact.

The individual minority groups differed in their enrollment levels when compared to last year. The percentage of black students enrolled increased to 6.4 percent — a 1-percent boost from last year and the highest it’s been since 2005. About 70 fewer Hispanic students enrolled this fall, though, dropping the group’s enrollment percentage about a point to 3.4 percent. Both Native Americans and Asian Americans were enrolled at a lower rate this year, but each saw a decrease of less than one percentage point.

This year’s class saw a 4-percent rise in the number of white students that enrolled.

University President Mary Sue Coleman lauded the University’s outreach efforts, but said more needs to be done to ensure minority enrollment doesn’t taper off.

“While we are pleased with holding our own with regard to underrepresented students, we cannot become complacent in our diversity efforts,” she said in a statement. “There is still much work to do.”

Still, the University has fared better than some schools in other states that also banned affitmative action.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, which banned the use of affirmative action. Almost immediately, state schools there saw huge drops in underrepresented minority admissions and enrollment. UCLA, in particular, has had problems enrolling black students. Though it once enrolled black students at a clip of 8 or 9 percent, as recently as 2006, just 2 percent of the students in its freshman class were black.

Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts said the University of Michigan’s ability to hold underrepresented minority enrollment numbers steady is a small victory when contrasted with other colleges that have faced affirmative action bans.

“Underrepresented minority student enrollment has plummeted at several major public universities operating under similar laws in other states,” he said in a statement.

Despite all-time freshman enrollment records being set at the University’s Dearborn and Flint campuses, fewer freshmen enrolled at the Ann Arbor campus this year when compared to last year. Altogether, 5,783 freshmen enrolled for the fall term — down from last year’s 5,992. As a result, slightly fewer students are enrolled at the University as a whole this year (41,028) when compared to last year (41,042).

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