Enrollment of African American students increases

The enrollment of African American Oswego State students climbed by 12.6 percent in five years.

In fall 2005, there were 277 black students at Oswego State. In fall 2009 that number grew to 312 students. The amount of Hispanic students at Oswego State also increased since 2005, growing by 88 students, or 34 percent.

Howard Gordon, executive assistant to the president, remembers his time as a student at Oswego State in the 1970s.

"We couldn’t have had more than 150 black students," Gordon said.

Gordon was a student when the Black Student Union (BSU) was in its infancy. Though it had been around for several years prior to his arrival at Oswego State, BSU was not recognized by the Student Association (S.A.) until 1970.

Though it was a recognized S.A. organization, it was not being funded enough to do the things the group felt they could make a difference. They wanted their S.A. fee to go toward something meaningful to them. Gordon remembers a large group of BSU members marching into an S.A. meeting and demanding they be properly funded.

"We’re not leaving," Gordon remembers saying. "We were stern, but respectful."

In the past, BSU has managed to get three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer Muhammad Ali to visit the campus and talk to students.

"Hewitt Union was packed to capacity that day," Gordon said. "They had to put speakers outside of the building, so everyone could listen to him speak."

Other notable figures that have visited Oswego state were Roberta Flack, Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez.

Gordon sees that the BSU has flourished over 40 years. BSU members then and now both possess a passion for a community and a college, Gordon said.

"It’s a life force that will never change…Organizations will stay around as long as there is a need for them," Gordon said.

According to the Office of Admissions, in 2010 there were 358 underrepresented students, nearly a 50 percent jump from 2004.

"The statistics speak for themselves," Gordon said.

In the 1970s, the rate of minority enrollment increased with the start of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). This special admissions process helped many students, but in the coming years more students of color have now started to enroll at Oswego State through the regular admissions process, said Joseph Grant, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment.

Gordon is proud at how much the campus has grown, especially now that the BSU holds events throughout the entire month of February.

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