Tampa students demand increase in Black enrollment, Black faculty
Tampa, FL – On July 2, students gathered at the gates of the on-campus residence for the president of the University of South Florida (USF) to demand that the university take measures to increase Black enrollment. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of Black students at the university has been on a steady decline, from a high of 12% a decade ago to the most recent report of 10%. But even the highest percentage is much lower than the demographics of the Tampa Bay area, in which Black people comprise nearly a quarter of the population.
Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led the crowd in chants calling for an increase in Black enrollment, as well as Black faculty and counselors. Tampa Bay SDS also drew attention to the fact that they have been met with pushback from administrators in the past when voicing these demands, with representatives of the university implying that an increase in Black enrollment would negatively affect the school’s graduation rates.
Tampa Bay SDS was joined by members of the Black Student Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who also voiced their frustrations with the lack of equity in the demographics of the university. Jason Berry of the NAACP emphasized, “Often, when we as Black students request something, the request isn’t met or is replaced with general ‘diversity’ rather than resources specifically for Black students.”
Tampa Bay SDS will continue to fight for an increase in Black enrollment at USF until the demand is met.