Minority retention becomes a priority

Steven Brittain

The Government of the Student Body passed a recommendation Wednesday to include minority students as a priority in the redirection of student fees.

The recommendation, which was passed 29-0 with four abstentions, includes an amendment to direct part of the money to keep minority students at Iowa State. The recommendation will be issued to Interim President Richard Seagrave for approval.

The original proposal for the student fees did not include minority retention as a priority under the undergraduate programs. Instead, it listed improving campus safety, reducing class sizes and improving information technology as avenues for the fees.

The campus minority group Student Leaders of Color made a presentation to the senate to identify the programs it would like to see the fee money benefit.

P’Angela Haynes, sophomore in pre-journalism and mass communication, and Jennifer Ray, sophomore in apparel merchandising, design and production, headed the presentation. They compared the ISU minority programs to those at other land-grant and Big 12 schools.

Ray said the programs at Iowa State are not effective, because they are not cohesive and are specifically aimed at freshmen and specific departments.

“We have programs, but they are very separate,” Ray said. “They kind of run from here to there without any real connection. The programs are not cohesive at all because they split people high.”

Haynes said there should be a university-wide retention program for minority students and a student/faculty committee to keep minority student enrollment numbers up.

“[A] committee would work, because students have the ideas and the faculty have the resources to implement these ideas,” Haynes said.

The Student Leaders of Color said they hope to have roughly 7 percent, or $100,000 of the $1.4 million in student fee money, allocated to minority retention. Ray said the $100,000 is about what the minority students pay to the student fee fund.

Some of the senators were strongly opposed to adding the minority retention line item to the proposed budget. Alex Rodeck, off campus, said the amendment perpetuates a feeling of separation that ethnic groups already feel on campus.

“Giving people more money simply because their skin is a different color is racism. The message sent will be that minorities are inferior. I believe that by leaving this proposal as it is would be best for all of the students,” he said.

Ray responded that the senate should support the amendment because all senators represent at least one ethnic person.

“There’s not one GSB senator that doesn’t represent at least one student of color somewhere,” she said. “You guys have to realize that when [minorities] lose 50 people, it affects us a lot more than it does the majority body.”