By Daniela Rueda |Staff Writer|
The statewide number of Hispanic students who graduate is a lower portion than other ethnicities, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
In Fall 2014, 18,952 students were enrolled at CSUSB, and 10,400 of them were Hispanic, according to the CSUSB admissions department.
Latinos face many obstacles. Many are often first-generation college students in their family. Others are low-income or attend low-performing schools that do not adequately prepare them for college, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
Sixty-five percent of Latino undergraduates attend a California community college but only 39 percent will earn a degree, certificate or transfer within six years compared to the 53 percent of Caucasian students, according to the Campaign for College Opportunity’s The State of Higher Education in California: Latino Report.
Proposition 209, also known as California Civil Rights Initiative, was approved in 1996. It prohibits consideration of race, sex and ethnicity for opportunities in public employment, public contracting and public education, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
The nonprofit campaign also recommended that the state’s public universities be allowed to use race/ethnicity as one of many factors in weighing an applicant’s qualifications.
Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, stated that Proposition 209 should be modified for the benefit of students’ education by requiring race as a factor in an applicant’s qualification.
“It’s exactly why we believe that Proposition 209 needs to be modified and that race and ethnicity need to be factors used in admission,” said Siqueiros.
Siquerios said that more funding needs to be a primary focus.
“Our primary focus definitely is to expand university capacity to serve more students, focusing attention on pushing the governor and policy makers to find more funding,” said Siqueiros.
Alejandra Ortiz, a CSUSB sophomore, believes the Proposition 209 modification would help Hispanic students.
“I know a lot of other Latinos that are first-generation and with Proposition 209 being modified, students will have more financial help,” said Ortiz.
While more Latinos are graduating from high school and completing the required coursework to be eligible for four-year public universities, they are still less likely to have a college degree and “lag far behind in overall college readiness, enrollment and degree completion rates,” according to the Campaign for College Opportunity.
Ortiz said she had a difficult time with financial aid because she is the first person in her family to go to college.
“I didn’t have the support from my brothers because they didn’t go to college. My FAFSA was the hardest part for me and dad was not working at the time. Luckily, I qualified for financial aid and that is the only reason why I’m in college,” said Ortiz.
Rebecca Gonzalez, a transfer student at CSUSB, said she faced financial problems before she transferred.
“This is my second year at CSUSB and I transferred from a community college. My experience was difficult because I had to work to pay for community college since I didn’t qualify for financial aid,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was surprised to hear the graduation rate of Hispanic students was falling.
“Students attending community colleges should be more informed about financial aid because that is what is holding them back from succeeding,” said Gonzalez.
Siqueiros said that remedial education for community college students should be improved and colleges should find ways to help improve their transfer rates and their ability to apply for financial aid.