Lines Becoming Increasingly Blurred Among Racial Identity:
- 4.4% of UGA students did not report a racial classification in 2014
- 3% said they were of two or more races
n 1994, more than 87 percent of UGA students were white, according to University System of Georgia statistics. Last fall semester, white students were 70.1 percent of UGA’s enrollment of more than 35,000 students. The biggest components of that change are increases
in Hispanic and Asian students. Nearly 1 in 10 UGA students — 9.5 percent — are classified as Asian; that’s up from 5 percent in 1994. With 3,352 students in that group, “Asian” is now UGA’s largest minority category.
Enrollment of Hispanic students increased from 1.2 percent in 1994 to 4.8 percent in the fall of 2014. The percent of students who classify themselves as black also increased, but not at those rates. The university’s 2,834 black students comprise 8.1 percent of the student body; that’s up from 6.3 percent, or 1,847 students, in 1994.
Many students don’t pick one of the traditional categories; 4.4 percent of UGA students did not report a racial classification in 2014, and 3 percent said they were of two or more races.
According to a database compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education using a slightly different data set — enrollment figures reported to the U.S. Department of Education — UGA had a higher percentage of Asian students than any other Southeastern Conference school in the fall of 2012. The Asian category actually includes many ethnic and racial groups, comprising students of both Indian and Chinese descent, for example.
But compared to the overall state population, black students are more underrepresented at UGA than at any other Southeastern Conference school, according to the Department of Education numbers. The ratio of black students to the overall black population in the state was smaller for UGA than for any other SEC school. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, Georgia’s black population is about 31 percent, about four times the percentage of black enrollment at UGA.
UGA has struggled to enroll more black students over the years since desegregation, especially after the courts ruled in the 1990s that UGA could no long give an admissions preference on the basis of race. African American enrollment, already low, dipped even further, but has gradually increased.
Officials cite a number of reasons for the low black enrollment relative to the state. One researcher in the 1980s noted that UGA has tough admissions standards, and students of color who can meet those standards have many more options than UGA to choose from, including two of the nation’s top historically black colleges — Morehouse and Spelman, in nearby Atlanta — as well as Ivy League schools and top public universities such as North Carolina.
UGA has received awards for its diversity efforts, UGA President Jere Morehead noted in his Jan. 21 State of the University speech. But he’s also asked the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity to conduct a campus “climate survey” this year that would also include other dimensions such as gender and sexual orientation.
UGA has grown less diverse geographically over the years as well, simply because of Atlanta’s growth. Nearly two-thirds of Georgia’s in-state students came from one of the 20 metro Atlanta counties this fall.
Three metro counties, Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett, account for 40 percent of UGA in-state undergraduates. The urbanization of the UGA student body goes back decades, tracking the state’s increasing urbanization. Metro Atlanta’s population grew by 354 percent between 1960 and 2010, more than quadrupling from 1.3 million to 5.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rest of Georgia grew, too, in those years, too, but not by nearly as much, rising from 2.6 million to 4.0 million, or 54 percent. In 1960, one in 3 Georgians, 33 percent, lived in Atlanta. By 2010, Atlantans counted for 59 percent of the state’s population. In recent years, Atlanta has become a magnet for Asian immigrants, many from cultures that value high educational achievement. About 3.7 percent of Georgians are of Asian descent, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
A team of NMI students has collaborated with industry professionals to bring interactive storytelling to the Athens Banner Herald. Working together, they've produced a richer news experience—with a focus on interactive data visualization—that engages the audience in new ways. Finally, taking what they've learned from creating these stories, they've created NewsKit, an open-source best practices guide for news organizations around the county looking to create similar projects.