In light of student protests and debates on campus surrounding issues of diversity at Binghamton University, Randall Edouard, director of undergraduate admissions, held an open forum to discuss what the University is doing to increase the diversity of the student population. Additionally, the forum discussed how student organizations can attract more underrepresented populations to apply.
The purpose of the forum for students Thursday, sponsored by the Student Association, was to address concerns that admissions does not do enough to encourage underrepresented students to come to BU.
“I felt like that there were some misconceptions out there about what admissions is trying to do … and about our administration … how they feel about this institution, how they feel about diversity at this institution and what they’re willing to do to help,” Edouard said.
Edouard explained methods the University has taken in recent years to reach out to underrepresented students, such as hiring a regional New York City recruiter and working with in-state and out-of-state community-based organizations.
He added that the biggest difficulty in diversifying the student body of BU has been getting underrepresented populations to apply.
“You can’t recruit underrepresented students, diverse students, if they’re not in the pool,” Edouard said.
Although there are formal outlets to reach out to prospective students, like the tour guide and student ambassador program, Edouard urged students to go back to their communities and high schools to encourage accepted students to choose Binghamton.
“We want students to step up, we want students to be active, we want students to help us,” Edouard said.
Students had the opportunity to ask questions and give suggestions to help increase the diversity of BU.
Nayemai-Isis McIntosh, the vice president for multicultural affairs of the SA and a junior double-majoring in human development and theater, suggested that admissions could get more student involvement by promoting the student ambassador program.
“We relate to prospective students the best, and promoting to students that this is an avenue that we can use would help the admissions board,” McIntosh said.
Ndeye Niang, the president of the Black Student Union, said underrepresented students may be deterred from attending BU because of finances.
“Some of the brightest students who are of color are poor,” said Niang, a senior majoring in political science. “The biggest thing we can do is offer more money in some shape or form.”
Don Greenberg, the vice president for academic affairs of the SA and a senior triple-majoring in computer science, finance and math, said the event’s purpose was to bring students and administrators together so that they could see the breakdown of the admission processes.
“It was important to allow them to see it firsthand, see the person that oversees it really cares about diversity and getting those looming questions about if this is being done seriously answered,” he said.
Greenberg said that although this was the first admissions forum held by the SA, the dialogue between students and administrators was a step in the right direction.
“The students have great suggestions and the communication is really great,” he said. “But ultimately it’s about getting everyone to a place where they’re comfortable and excited.”