By Nadira Wicaksana
FSU received the second-highest score for black student equity among 506 public four-year universities across the United States.
The ranking comes from a study that was released by the University of Southern California (USC)’s Race and Equity Center on Sept. 24.
Schools included in the study, as well as all 50 states, were given “GPA-style grades [as] a way to ascribe value and accountability to data,” according to Shaun Harper, the center’s director.
FSU was given a score of 3.25, equivalent to an “A” grade. The highest equity score in the study was 3.50, given to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and two other schools – the University of California-Fresno and the University of Louisville.
Among all the states, Massachusetts scored the highest, with a score of 2.81. The lowest-scoring state was Louisiana at 1.18.
According to the report, the four “equity indicators” against which the schools were judged consisted of representation equity, gender equity, completion equity, and the black-student-to-black-faculty ratio. Harper said he used federal data in order to conduct the study.
Representation equity compares the institution’s population of black students to the black population aged 18-24 in the state in which the institution is located.
Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion, and community engagement, said she was proud to see FSU received this distinction.
González said “numbers matter” when it comes to measuring diversity, and that it is an “intentional process” to increase the number of black students, faculty, and staff on campus.
“Low numbers do not equate to a diverse campus, and can also equate to problems on campus,” she added.
FSU President F. Javier Cevallos said, “I think we have accomplished a lot, but there is a lot more to be done. We are still working to further diversify our faculty so that it is more representative of our student body. We have recently begun requiring job applicants to include a diversity statement when applying, and we also developed a diversity fellowship program for faculty.”
He added, “We’ve also taken important steps to diversify the curriculum, but that is an area we continue to work on.”
One of USC’s Race and Equity Center’s missions is to prevent “racial crises” on college campuses, said Harper. He cited the riots in Charlottesville, as well as the tension of the current political climate, as factors that contribute to an environment where white supremacy thrives.
Harper said he thinks communities must be “reflective” and constantly criticize any implicit biases they might hold.
In the wake of a series of racial hate crimes at FSU last year, González wants to “keep the conversation going” and also provide spaces in which community members can freely talk about sensitive issues.
Cevallos said, “Unfortunately, prejudice and biases exist and are the result of ignorance and fear. Our role is to educate everyone so that we learn to value, respect and appreciate every single member of our FRAMily.”
Tajianna Ledford, a sophomore and member of M.I.S.S., said, “I don’t believe the school is serving black students well.”
She added, “I feel like this is why we have groups like M.I.S.S. and BSU for the empowerment of black students or other races. It’s sad that when the racist situation happened last year it was students who had to do the job of a faculty [member] or dean.”