EAST LANSING, Mich. — Graduation rates for Black and Latino students at Michigan State University lag far behind those of the student body as a whole.
MSU is setting out to change that. The university's latest strategic plan call for an increase graduation rates for marginalized and minority students.
"MSU has tremendous graduation rates when we look at colleges and universities across the country," said Genyne Royal, the assistant dean for Student Success Initiatives. "But one of the things that we also see is that, it's been discussed through research and through our own data, where work over the years is the gaps that exists in terms of our graduation rate."
Between 2010 and 2020 MSU's overall graduation rate increased from 77 percent to 81 percent. That means more than four out of five undergraduates earned a degree within six years.
But a more detailed look shows wide disparities.
The most recent graduation rate for Asian American students was 87 percent. For white students, it was 85 percent. For
But, for Black students, it was 63 percent and 71 percent for Latino and Hispanic students.
Research shows a big reason for the discrepancy is financial pressure, whether that's simply not having enough money or having to work more hours to make ends meet.
But Black students at MSU say there are other reasons, too.
"When you are at a PWI institution and you’re a person of color, its automatically like its you versus the world because you don’t see people like you everyday," said Marcus McDaniel, campus representative for the Black Student Alliance.
McDanile believes lack of representation on campus can affect graduation rates for minorities.
MSU officials say the university is addressing the issue through its Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative.
"Identity-conscious student success work is this idea of centering the student's identity in the academic environment and the experience," Royal said.
She said the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative offers programs that focus on first generation students, students of color who want to go into STEM and more.
"The identity-conscious work is really about bringing faculty staff and students together who self identify with the community to talk about what success looks like for that particular community," Royal said.
In McDaniel's opinion the plan for increasing graduation rates is a good start, but he said a true first step would be a committee of students and faculty working on a plan together.
"The faculty’s longevity or lifespan on this campus is way longer than any students. So by having them continue to committees, and as well as to implement stuff, year by year that will help people of color , help minorities out, that's gonna be the first step. just forming that committee and maintaining it," he said.
MSU aims to raise the six-year average graduation rate for undergraduate students to 86 percent. To view the full plan, click here.