African American members of Indiana’s State Legislature will hold a public hearing on the campus of Indiana University Northwest in Gary on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 from 6-8 p.m. in the Library Conference Center. The hearing is to rally the community around the challenges African American students, faculty and staff experience on campus in the areas of recruitment, retention and student graduation rates.
Input from the public is encouraged and accepted.
According to State Representative Charlie Brown (D), a crisis is growing at Indiana state colleges and universities in regard to low success rates among African Americans and particularly African American males.
“Despite the rhetoric coming from administration officials, these issues are not being addressed in any meaningful way. We want to set the record straight with the facts of the matter and the testimony of those who have been negatively affected by the lack of enacted policies that could lead to reversing the situation.”
Other members Rep. Vernon Smith (D), Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D), Sen. Eddie Melton (D) and Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D) are anxious to find solutions to the crisis. In the past, Rep. Smith, through the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs has presented Indiana University Northwest with an analysis of the problems along with policy solutions yet implementation of the recommendations has not occurred. Additionally, the Gary Chapter of the Commission on the Status of Black Males is currently investigating the challenges faced by young Black men on the campuses of Indiana University and Purdue University.
“We are looking at a crisis that exists not only in Indiana but across the nation. It is our responsibility to shine a light on our state in particular in order to make the kinds of changes we need in our own backyard,” said Rep. Smith.
Across the state, graduation rates for Black students are well below national averages. According to a 2016 study on Black student success, the Education Trust presented an analysis comparing top and bottom performing institutions based on graduation rates and completion gaps. Among the top performing institutions listed, none were from Indiana, while among the bottom performers one Indiana university was named. Far too many of Indiana’s colleges and universities show similar results and, when compared to national averages, are failing to fulfill the promise of educational success when it comes to the state’s citizens of African American descent.
“We believe that a concerted effort on the part of university leadership to attend to and address the challenges facing Black students should be undertaken,” said Rep. Harris, Jr. “It would be extremely useful for the chancellors of the regional campuses to review their institutional data and determine ways to address and remedy the challenges faced by all IU students, especially those “non-traditional” students who are served locally.”