PULLMAN, Wash. — The number of ethnic minority students applying for graduate study at
Washington State University for Fall 1999 is up compared to numbers last year at this time.
University officials see this as a sign that the passage of Initiative 200 is not dampening minority
student interest in earning master’s and doctoral degrees at the Pullman campus.
“Right now, applications from ethnic minority students are up 12.5 percent,” said Karen
DePauw, interim dean of the Graduate School. Applications are up 25.6 percent from prospective
graduate students who are Hispanic, while applications from African American students are up
4.5 percent.
“This increase is very good news, as some professional and graduate programs in California
and Texas saw declines in applications when affirmative action programs became illegal in those
states,” DePauw said.
In Washington this past November, voters approved I-200 that bans the use of gender or
ethnic preferences by the state’s public higher education institutions.
“We have worked very hard to make it clear to Washington citizens that WSU never gave
preferential treatment to women or people of color in admission to WSU, either for graduate
school or undergraduate studies,” said WSU Provost Gretchen Bataille.
“WSU has a reputation of active outreach to ensure a diverse student body,” she said. “We
are pleased that prospective students appear to recognize that I-200 has not diminished WSU’s
commitment to diversity.”
The provost said WSU admissions criteria focus on indications of an individual student’s
ability to succeed in the university’s academic programs.
“Since the election, WSU has redoubled its commitment to reach out to capable students of
all backgrounds,” the provost said. “We are working hard to let them know that we want them to
consider one of our four campuses or our Extended Degree Programs for their undergraduate or
graduate study.”
At the undergraduate level, applications to WSU from minority students are down 3.5
percent overall, but the trend is not consistent. For example, applications from minority transfer
students are up 11.6 percent, while those from prospective minority freshmen are down 5.3
percent. Applications from African American students are up 14.6 percent, while those from
Hispanic American students are down 8.7 percent.
“It is difficult to see any I-200 impact given this mixed picture at this time in the
undergraduate application process,” Bataille said. “Nonetheless, it is a serious cause for concern
if any student thinks he or she can’t go to college because of the initiative.”
Steve Burkett, assistant dean, noted that WSU’s efforts to recruit graduate students of color
have shown consistent success. This past fall, 11.8 percent of all graduate students were ethnic
minorities. That compares to 5.2 percent 10 years ago.
During the same 1988-1998 period, total enrollment of ethnic minority students on the
Pullman campus, undergraduate and graduate students, has climbed from 7.8 percent to 13.1
WSU is a member of several outreach programs that work to interest students of color in
graduate study on the Pullman campus. These include Project 1000, the McNair Scholars, the
Western Name Exchange, the National Physical Science Consortium and a partnership with
Florida A&M University. Eight FAMU students are currently pursuing graduate degrees at
At the undergraduate level, WSU also has active outreach programs for minority students.
The best known is the Future Teachers of Color program in the WSU College of Education. The
program has received awards and considerable news coverage in recent months.