If you keep a movie paused long enough then the image on the screen ends up being there forever. When you finally come back and push play, you might find that the image has permanently burned in and all the new scenes are always cast behind that scar.
Northern Kentucky University’s Office of African-American Student Affairs needs to push play. If we continue to pause on our analysis about how to improve our retention and graduation rates, we are going to create a burn on our future image.
While our retention rates may not be the worst out of our peer institutions, they are nothing to brag about. Roughly 40 percent of students who identify as African-American leave the university without completing their degree. AASA should take the forefront on examining the causes of this failure and find the best solution that offers the fullest support to those we have welcomed in to the Norse family.
We applaud AASA for pressing on in this time of adversity. Challenges have come forth over and over again and have created regrettable scenarios that are, sometimes, out of the control of the university. Nonetheless, students find a place that offers them hope and solutions and the one-on-one mentoring that so many of them want or even need. However, this is only one of the battles. Individual support is great but our retention rates hint that systemic change within the university is something to seriously consider and examine.
AASA should lead this examination. From discussions I’ve had and from documents we have here in the office, it was something that previous staff members who have now been pushed out or fired were ready, even eager, to take on. Whether or not the removal of those staff members was a good or bad thing is a discussion for another day. Either way, the passion they put into dealing with bringing a quick, systemic change to improve the quality of life and the success of African-American students must be revived. If we continue to wait until everything is perfect and everyone is in place then things might look nice, but no one will notice behind the burned image of our neglect.
Editorial by Jesse Call