The Spartans begin the school year on top in the Big Ten as they welcome the largest African-American freshman class on campus this year.
“We anticipate being somewhere between 620 and 630 African-American freshmen, which is the largest freshman cohort of African-American students in the Big Ten,” James Cotter, MSU's Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment, said.
Black Student Alliance vice president Sarah Fleming says she was excited when she heard the news of more African-American students coming to campus because of her own experiences as a freshman.
"As a fifth-year senior just remembering my space, when I first came to MSU, I couldn't find the black people," she said. "Just hearing that the freshmen coming in this year won’t necessarily have that same type of experience that I did and that alone makes me happy."
Fleming said she thinks the racial climate on campus has been shifting for the better the past few years, and that it was unfavorable for black people when she arrived.
She added that MSU is still a predominantly white institution and there will still be issues involving race, but “just the fact that there is going to be more black students on campus” is a step in the right direction.
The number of African-Americans in this class should be greater than the year before, but there will be no certainty until classes begin.
MSU will be enrolling about 8,000 first-year students this semester but this is only the second largest class compared to 2012, which had just over 8,200 freshman attendee, Cotter said.
“The 8,000 students that we’re bringing in as freshmen this year was our established target, so our goal was to bring in 8,000 freshmen, we think we’re very close to that,” Cotter said.
The admissions office is already moving on to the fall of 2018 and they’ve already received over 1,000 applications from next year’s freshmen, he said.
The university remains committed to diversity, Cotter said, and will continue to work very aggressively at recruiting a diverse freshman population.
“I think the fact that we’ve seen this very large freshman class enrolled for the fall speaks very, very well to the Michigan State University reputation," Cotter said. "Our goal is always to make sure that we're very diverse in terms of not only racial/ethnic background but also geographic background."
Fleming says that black students who are already on campus should help out incoming freshmen and get them acclimated with the black community because just having the numbers isn’t enough.
“As a student who is already here, I do feel like this is also our chance to make sure we reach out to those students to ensure that (the) climate shift is going to take place,” Fleming said.
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