Rising diversity at WSU

Students in front of the CUB.The graduating Class of 2022 is one of the most diverse in WSU history.

This year’s largest-ever percentage of students of color completing their degrees “is a continuation of a trend that WSU has observed over the last several years,” said Saichi Oba, vice provost for enrollment management. “We believe there’s a lot more room for more people and more students of color at WSU.”There is not a specific goal for how diverse the student body should be, he said, but one of WSU’s goals is to make college more affordable and accessible to underrepresented students.

“We’ve worked really hard to reach out to first-generation students where that sense of themselves going to college might not be as clear to them,” said Ellen Taylor, vice chancellor for Student Affairs. “I believe we have a number of programs in place that are about reaching out to students in more rural areas and other areas.”

Graphic: Diversity over the years at the WSU graduations since 2021. 45.3% more African Americans graduated in 2021 as compared to 2013. 141% more Latino/Hispanic students graduated in 2021 as compared to 2013. 42.9% less American Indian/Alaska Native students graduated in 2021 as compared to 2013. 200% more students of multiple races graduated in 2021 as compared to 2013. Students of color make up 13.1% more of the graduating class in 2021 as compared to 2013.
Diversity comparison infographic from The Daily Evergreen.

Taylor said one of the examples of a program meant to reach out to prospective students is Upward Bound, a federally funded program meant to support first-generation college students.

“There is a demographic shift in college-aged students that’s happening across the country. More underrepresented students are coming of college-age,” Oba said. Additionally, ending standardized test requirement for incoming students will likely lead to an even more diverse student body in years to come.

WSU administration hopes to continue creating “a diverse environment where students can interact with people different from them, as well as creating opportunities for people who have historically faced barriers to higher education,” Taylor said.

Currently, the university is developing programs to promote student success. While the increased diversity of the student population may not feel observable, Taylor hopes people will notice it over time.

“I would love it if in the next few years we say, ‘Look at how we’ve changed,’” Taylor said.

Top image: Students outside the CUB on the WSU Pullman campus (photo by WSU Photo Services).

By Josiah Pike, The Daily Evergreen