DETROIT — Wayne State University in Detroit is seeing a decline in black students despite the city’s majority black population.
Of the more than 27,000 students enrolled at Wayne State in 2016, less than 100 were black students from the city’s public schools, the Detroit News reported .
“Wayne State has always had a wall around it, and it’s been disconnected for far too long,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization. “They need to do more to tear down that fortress of being a Midtown institution by getting into the neighborhoods. … otherwise they can’t take part in the Detroit to come.”
University officials said the issue involves more than enrollment numbers and that they’re working to not only enroll more black students but also help them graduate.
President M. Roy Wilson said the student population at the Detroit Public Schools Community District has been steadily shrinking. He also said that two-thirds of the nearly 1,000 black students who enrolled at the university in 2005 had left the school before graduating.
“There is nothing worse than bringing a student in, having them go into debt and leaving without a degree,” Wilson said. “It’s better that they didn’t go to school because they have nothing to show for it, no certificate, no degree and they have $30,000 to $40,000 in debt. So they start off life with no increase in earning potential and with debt.”
The Rev. Malik Shabazz said that for the city to move forward, Wayne State needs to play a bigger role in helping low-income residents get an education.
“They are a Detroit institution, and I know they are international, but they need to behave like a Detroit institution,” said Shabazz, who is also a community activist. “It is important to recruit Detroiters to Wayne State because education opens up doors that are closed. Education is the passport to the future.”
Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/