The University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center released a report on a nationwide study in late September that showed many California schools are underserving Black students. Cal Poly was one of them.
Every college or university was given a GPA-style equity index score, ranging from 0 to 4. The GPA score was calculated based on four equity indicators: representation equity, gender equity, completion equity and Black-student-to-Black-faculty ratio. In each of these categories, schools received a letter grade — A, B, C, D, F or I.
Cal Poly received a D in representation equity, a D in gender equity, a D in completion equity, an A in Black-Student-to-Black-faculty ratio with a ratio of 12:1, and an overall equity index score of 1.75, 0.71 lower than California’s average score. California was ranked third in the nation overall, with an average equity index score of 2.46.
Cal Poly received the lowest score for representation equity in California, with a student population that is only 0.7 percent Black.
The report, done by USC Race and Equity Center Director Shaun Harper and Research Associate Isaiah Simmons, displayed data collected from the Department of Education and the United States Census. The data quantifies postsecondary access and student success for Black students across the nation at 506 colleges and universities.
University Spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News that the university is working to make a more inclusive and diverse campus community by creating more programs and initiatives that support diversity and inclusion.
“Still, we know there is much more work to be done in both enrollment and support systems — in particular for black students,” Lazier wrote. “While state law prohibits the university from enrolling students based on race/ethnicity, the university is committed to its efforts to increase access to lower-income and first-generation students.”
Private schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, military academies, university health and medical institutes, graduate universities and community colleges were not included in the study.
Representation equity is defined in the study as the “extent to which Black students’ share of enrollment in the undergraduate student population reflects their representation among 18-24 year-old citizens in that state.”
Gender equity was measured based on the proportion of Black women and Black men enrolled at each school compared to the national gender enrollment distribution across racial/ethnic groups in which 56.3 percent of undergraduate students are women and 43.7 percent of students are men.
Completion equity compared Black students’ six-year graduation rates to overall six-year graduation rates during the same time period at each institution.
Black student to Black faculty ratio was the ratio of full-time, degree-seeking Black undergraduates to full-time Black instructional faculty members on each campus.
The report notes the study’s limitations and indicates that As and Bs are to be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, As and Bs are not necessarily exceptional or redeemable letter grades, but rather always relative.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, University of Louisville and UC San Diego received the highest in the nation with equity index scores of 3.50.
Other California public universities that scored among the highest in the nation include California State University (CSU) Monterey Bay, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside and CSU Fresno, which all received an equity index score of 3.00.
CSU Chico received the only F out of all California public universities for their scores in completion equity. According to the study, the graduation rate for Black students at CSU Chico is 42.9 percent, while their overall graduation rate is 61.3 percent, leaving them with an 18.3 percent disparity.