LSU diversity: Why more black students are finding a home on campus

Apr 10, 2019 by

Louisiana’s flagship public university, LSU, has a checkered past on integration. A black student president helps students of color find a home.

Each state likes to think of its premier university as a shining example of its public higher education system. At Louisiana State University, where black students made up just 12% of the student body despite being 44% of the state’s graduating high schoolers in 2015, that messaging is more complicated.

But several signs suggest the paradigm may be shifting on this historic campus. University leadership has invested in diversity by forming strong recruiting bonds with communities of color and using holistic admissions. They’ve also pushed to desegregate student groups, including Greek life. Louisiana on the whole is actually improving while some nearby states regress. Flagship universities in Alabama and Missouri, for example, are enrolling fewer African American students and face a widening gap between the percentage of black students graduating from high school and the percentage entering state colleges.

For Stewart Lockett, LSU’s third-ever black student body president, there’s more work to do, but the future is starting to look brighter. “I’m not going to lie,” Mr. Lockett says. “It’s been a huge shift, and we’re really proud of it.”

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