The number of early action applications for Black students at the University of Virginia plummeted this year, officials said.
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It’s not surprising. Heather Heyer, 32, a White legal assistant, died when a White supremacist crashed into a crowd of counter-protesters in August during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“It’s the only [racial] group that’s lower,”Greg Roberts, dean of admissions, told The Daily Progress about African-American students. “The events in August are certainly on people’s minds.”
He said the school made gains with a record level of early decision applications among other racial groups in fall 2017. A total of 3,788 students, who enrolled in August were majority White. The university registered only 344 Black first-year students or about 9 percent of the class, roughly equivalent to the percentage of first year African-American students, according to The Daily Progress.
In recent years, the university has worked to increase enrollment among students of color. As a result, the university saw a 45 percent increase in first year African-American student enrollment in the past five years, compared to an 8 percent increase for the total class during that period, Marcus Martin, UVA vice president and the university’s chief officer for diversity, told USA Today in August following the Charlottesville rallies.
However, with the decline in Black students’ early applications this year and acceptances not finalized for next year yet, it is unclear just how diverse the student body will become for the 2018-2019 year.
What is clear is that the lower number of Black students at UVA fits into a pattern that suggests majority-white schools do not represent truly safe spaces for students of color. Calls for Black-only spaces at certain colleges, including the University of Michigan, and inclusive campuses have been a result of campus racism.
UVA students have protested this “subjugation of unrepresentative communities” on campus after Charlottesville and most likely will keep raising their voices in the future.