Equity 2030 was the point of discussion during Wednesday’s Student Government meeting.
The system-wide initiative was formed three years ago by the Board of Trustees. According to the university’s website, “The graduation rate of white students continues to grow, while that of many minority groups declines.” The goal is to prevent equity gaps in graduation rates in the universities within the Minnesota State system.
Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Henry Morris gave a presentation to the Senate regarding key performance indicators on Equity 2030 and how it affects different groups of students on campus.
Morris said the gaps come from different success rates from “federally recognized diverse people.”
The four main groups are Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinx and Native Americans the federal government recognizes. First-year outcome by race, eligibility for Pell Grants and on-time graduation are considered for undergraduate success.
Morris asked for a show of hands on how many students suspected they would graduate in four years. A majority of the senators raised their hands. Minnesota State’s average is six years.
“Our four-year graduation rate isn’t the best, so we push it out two more years to look better. I think we ought to fix it so people who come here graduate in four years,” Morris said.
Morris said there are three primary reasons students aren’t successful when it comes to graduation: academics, financial and environmental.
Academics covers suspension when students are suggested to take some time away from MSU because they aren’t doing well in their classes. Financial purposes regard when students owe money to MSU. Morris said the environmental aspect is the most challenging.
“We have 4.0 students who leave the institution. They may leave because they can’t afford to be here or they just don’t like being here. They don’t feel welcome and supported,” Morris said. “We need to look at all three of those to give the student the best chance to be successful.”
The intersectionality of a student’s identity comes into play regarding the environment. Morris said multiple parts of a student’s personality, life circumstances and interests need to be considered with accommodations.
“We need to look at the full student,” Morris said.
Senior Director of Accessibility Resources Carine Omole and Associate Director Beth Claussen spoke on how accessibility resources are also playing into Equity 2030.
“Our office is looking at ‘How are we leveling the playground for all students that come through our office so that they are also successful and persistent?’” Omole said.
Morris said changes in policies and procedures are made for everyone, not just for diverse people.
“If we see a problem and we only fix it for one group, that would be problematic. We fix it for everyone because it’s a student success problem,” Morris said.
The DEI committee has a series of plans they are currently writing with a three-year plan for 2027 where over 50% of the gap should be closed.
Header photo: Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Henry Morris gave a presenation at the Student Government meeting regarding DEI’s Plans for Equity 2030, which plans to close the graduation gap. (Nathanael Tilahun/The Reporter)
Write to Emma Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org