Ithaca College is making positive strides in recruiting African, Latino/a, Asian-American and Native American students, reaching for an ultimate goal of 20 percent ALANA enrollment by 2020.
This year, ALANA student enrollment increased to 16.1 percent, up from last year’s 14.9 percent. The largest increases were in Latinos and African-Americans. ALANA students make up 18.7 percent of this year’s freshman class, up from last year’s 17.9 percent. Yet, the difference is only in five students. It is commendable that the college continues to boost campus diversity and provides a number of communities for minority students.
The college is also conducting a survey through November of students, staff and faculty to gauge perceptions of diversity in its policies at the college and also to see how it’s doing with reaching its diversity goals. Some of the topics will include fairness, equality, personal experience and inclusiveness. A previous survey in 2004 found that the climate for ALANA students, as well as women and LGBT students, needed to be improved.
While it is admirable that the college is reaching out for the community’s input through the survey, a number of students are raising concerns that the retention rate of ALANA students on campus is not high. Some said they have seen many leave the college for a number of reasons, including “financial issues” and “not feeling included.”
The college does not release retention data for ALANA students, and the retention data for the general population is only available from 2002 to 2006.
Recruiting ALANA students to diversify the campus community should continue to be a priority, but retention must also be an equal concern. Retention and climate are the job of not only the college administration but also the community. Students, faculty and staff should take time to respond to the survey, and to make informed responses, they should have access to the relevant retention data.