Cal Poly among worst public schools for black students in California, study shows

Cal Poly scored among the worst public schools in California when it comes to serving black students, according to a new report from USC’s Race and Equity Center.

Cal Poly scored poorly in three of four “equity indicators” such as percentage of black students in the student body, gender equity, graduation rates and black student-to-black faculty ratio.

Shaun R. Harper, the director of the Race and Equity Center, and Isaiah Simmons, a research associate with the center, wrote the report using federal data from 2016.

They combined U.S. Census population statistics with quantitative data from the U.S. Department of Education to “measure post-secondary access and student success for black undergraduates.”

Letter grades (A, B, C, D, F and I) were assigned to each school in each category — and Cal Poly’s report card wasn’t pretty.

Cal Poly, which has the smallest proportion of black students among all public universities in California at 0.7 percent, received a “D” grade in the representation equity category, the worst in the state.

Cal Poly also received a “D” grade in differential between black graduation rates and overall graduation rates. The university’s overall graduation rate in 2016 was 74.7 percent, while the graduation rate for black students was 59.4 percent, a difference of 15.3 percent — the fourth-highest differential in the state behind Chico State (18.3), Sonoma State (16) and UC Berkeley (15.9).

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Additionally, Cal Poly scored the worst among all public schools in California in the gender equity category, receiving another “D” grade.

Cal Poly earned an “A” grade in the black student-to-black faculty ratio category. The university had 144 black students and 12 black faculty members in 2016, a 12:1 ratio that ranked among the best in the state.

Cal Poly’s overall equity index score was 1.75, below the statewide average of 2.46.

Massachusetts garnered the highest state equity index score in the country at 2.81, followed by Washington at 2.59 and California ranked third overall.

Cal Poly has taken several steps to improve the diversity of its campus community over the past six months.

In September, Cal Poly launched a new scholarship program that aims to attract more low-income students to campus in the coming years. The university also put all incoming freshmen through a mandatory diversity workshop during the Week of Welcome.

Back in June, the school released a 30-page document outlining Cal Poly’s past, ongoing and future diversity initiatives.

The university has been working to repair its public image after multiple racist photos emerged on social media during spring quarter, causing widespread outrage on campus and eventually leading President Jeffrey Armstrong to place all fraternities and sororities on suspension.

The suspensions were lifted at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

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