Florida International University is a commuter school with a large number of students that are involved as student leaders or members of organizations on campus, but few are African-American.
African-Americans are a minority at FIU contributing to 12 percent of the student population, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Though there are organizations specifically geared toward black and Caribbean students, there are a small number of individuals who consistently stay involved with those organizations or branch out to other organizations.
“I think black involvement has decreased.It’s not at the level that it used to be,” said Kenasha Paul, FIU Alumna and former Black Student Union president.
Executive Director and Founder of the Center for the Study of College Student Retention, Dr. Alan Seidman, states in his book Formula for Student Success that ‘the more committed [a student is] to the institution, the higher likelihood of success.’
Janice Spann- Givens, one of BSU’s advisors said, “I have seen students come in and be major agents of change, and I have seen others come in and accept that things are however they are.”
Herline Emmanuel, sophomore, is a student ambassador, member of Strong Women Strong Girls and an Alternative Breaks participant.
Emmanuel had high expectations of the roles black students should play in student leadership. Upon entering FIU in Fall 2011, she was disappointed.
“I didn’t see black men and women carry themselves how they should. I saw a people that did not care for what others thought about us.The individuals who cared were slim to none,” she said.
This is the thought that drives the African-American population at FIU who do choose to become involved. Emmanuel, and many others, have taken it upon themselves to become more than just another part of the ’12 percent.’
“I didn’t want to be content with where most would try to place me, the Black Student Union, I wanted to be more, do more and serve more,” said Emmanuel.
What will it take for more African-American students to step up and step out of their comfort zones to create a positive and long-lasting legacy at FIU? What will you do?