Several Ohio campuses have abysmal success rates for black college students, even as the state pushes for, and desperately needs, more graduates
This story about Kent State Ashtabula was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger’s newsletter. ASHTABULA, Ohio — Alexis Turner listened carefully as the administrators at the freshman orientation for Kent State University at Ashtabula ticked through the student groups she could join on campus that fall: English Society, Psychology Club, Student Veterans Association.
She left the auditorium apprehensive. There was no Black Student Union, Latino Student Union or Multicultural Society.
Once the semester started, it became more apparent why those clubs don’t exist.
“There’s not a lot of black representation,” said Turner, a black freshman. Kent State Ashtabula is in a rural county near Cleveland, where black and Latino students make up about a third of the local high school. While Turner is right — black students are underrepresented at the university — hundreds have enrolled in the last decade.
Very few have succeeded. The six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time black students has been zero for five years running, according to federal data.
University officials said that number fails to capture all its students because Ashtabula is a regional, or satellite, campus. Although Ashtabula offers both associate and bachelor’s degrees, they said, the main campus, Kent State University at Kent, receives credit for Ashtabula’s students who pursue certain bachelor’s degrees. Between fall 2013 and spring 2019, university officials say, 55 black students received an associate or bachelor’s degree from Ashtabula.
That’s an average of eight a year, at an institution where about 100 black students enroll annually.
Data analysis and Graphics by Cid Standifer
In early March, just as Ohioans were learning about the first cases of novel coronavirus in the state, Anna Bondar’s grandfather fell at his Cleveland home. Luckily, the 92-year old, who lives with dementia, wasn’t injured badly.
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Graphics by Cid Standifer
Note: this article has been updated to include previously unavailable nursing home data. Carmine Ballard graduated from The Ohio State University in 2016, with two Bachelor of Arts degrees— one in Psychology, another in Women’s and Gender Studies.
As the novel coronavirus spread, Appalachian Ohio saw the state’s highest percentages of people out of work. Ohio’s coal mining counties have been hit even harder as unemployment surged following the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak.