Minority enrollment has increased over the past 5 years

By Matthew Hunt

February 21, 2013

Western’s campus has seen an increase among minorities over the past five years.

In the spring of 2009, Western stood at 17.7 percent minority rate among students on campus. That number has since increased 2.1 percent which has Western’s minority students at 19.8 percent in spring 2013.

The Asian student number at Western in 2012 stood at 29 and excelled to 47 in 2013 which is an increase of 62 percent. Western places minorities in different categories according to different races. The data shows a decrease in individual ethnicity percentages between the years of 2009 to 2013 due to new categories used for reporting race that began in the fall of 2010.

When compared to other universities such as Northwest Missouri State or Missouri Southern the African American percentage is lower than Missouri Western.  Western stands at a 9.2 percent among African American students with Northwest at 5.75 percent and Southern at 3.87 percent.

Judith Grimes, associate vice president for Student Affairs believes Western has seen a huge change and believes the University will continue to grow over the next several years. She thinks the reason why we have a much larger minority rate is based on the increase of international student population and students who have parents of different ethnic backgrounds.

“I’ve seen a pretty dramatic change over the last 15 years since I’ve been here,” Grimes said. “We have many students who might have one African American parent and the other Caucasian which increases our student minority.”

Missouri Southern State University is similar in comparison to Western with 19 percent of their student body being minority. Northwest Missouri State University remains low with 16 percent rate of their student body being minority. Amy Kotwani, international student services director said she believes Western is still less diverse than other schools but feels it is increasing at a positive rate.

“I think the population of our international students and other ethnicities are growing,” Kotwani said. “There’s a push to bring more international students to Western which would increase our diversity among minorities.”

Minority students at Western believe its university has become more minority friendly over the past 5 to 10 years. Lisa Uketui, a junior said that other students of  the same  Nigerian decent  as her is growing is increasing at  Western and around the state. She believes Western has taken a different view and welcomes all groups of students regardless of their color, race or gender.

“It’s definitely grown,” Uketui said. “We have so many groups of students from different ethnic backgrounds.”

Over 80.2 percent of Western’s students are of the Caucasian race. Bryan Miller, a junior said when he moved to St. Joseph, Missouri he believed that Western would be mostly Caucasian because it’s in the Midwest. The reason he believes that Western has a high Caucasian percentage is due to most students are commuters from surrounding towns.

Miller explained that when he moved here from Texas that things were getting better. He worked for Abercrombie and Fitch as a sales associate and when he started it was predominantly  Caucasians  employed by the company. Over time he said the company changed their view and started hiring more ethnicities which helped their sales.

“I think the school can only get better in terms of increasing their diversity amongst students,” Miller said. “There’s a huge minority awareness and this is a topic that must be addressed  if Western would like to see a higher percentage of races among students.”