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University of Washington students rally to increase Black, Latino and native enrollment

By staff

Seattle SDS demands the University of Washington increase oppressed nationality student enrollment.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – On Thursday, October 5, the Progressive Student Union at the University of Washington held a rally to begin a campaign to increase enrollment of Black, Latino and native students at the university. Over 20 students gathered at the steps of Suzzallo Library to demonstrate their support for the demands.

Black, Latino and student from native nations at the University of Washington are drastically underrepresented. Based on the enrollment numbers for the incoming class of 2022, which have not been released in detail publicly, less than 10% of new students in 2022 were Latino, 3.9% were African American or Black, and less than a quarter of a percent were native. Despite this, the university continued to boast of having one of the most diverse incoming classes in its history.

As a result of escalating attacks on diversity nationwide, the Progressive Student Union at the University of Washington, a chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, decided to take up a campaign to increase enrollment of these groups. Israel Vazquez, a member of the Progressive Student Union, spoke to the effect that low enrollment of oppressed peoples has at UW, stating “What message does it send to me when I come to UW, and I have to search for my community? When I’m one of the only Chicanos in my classes? It tells me that I’m alone.”

The administration has paid lip service to similar demands in the past, but students said that they were tired of a lack of action. Milan Suárez, of the Students for Farm Workers, said, “We desperately seek community on campus, and we’re tired of being our own support system.” Jonathan Toledo, a member of the Seattle Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, described the primary reasons for a lack of enrollment as “antagonistic administration” and “the general cost of classes.”

The rally finished with Mathieu Chabaud, another member of the Progressive Student Union, explaining the historical context for the current campaign, saying, “What we have here today at this university, in terms of enrollment, ethnic studies, the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, was created because students fought for it and made administration implement it.”

In 1968, the Black Student Union held a sit-in that culminated in the university agreeing to create ethnic studies programs and increase Black enrollment, which also had the effect of significantly increasing Latino and native enrollment. Chabaud ended with a call to rebuild the gains of the student movement in the past, and force administration to commit to increasing enrollment of oppressed nationalities again.

#SeattleWA #PSU #SDS #AfricanAmerican #Chicano #Latino #SAARPR #IncreaseBlackEnrollment