Signatures Promise Graduation

Stephanie Goldberg, State News (Michigan State University), April 7, 2008

To push themselves and each other to obtain a diploma, about 300 students have gripped markers and signed an MSU student group’s banner intended to increase graduation rates among black students.

Janeen Anderson, president of Black Student Alliance, was the first to sign the 3-by-5 foot banner.

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“The banner will affect the number of black students who graduate because by signing in permanent ink, they are promising themselves they will own up to their responsibility to graduate.”

Anderson created the banner after the issue of increasing retention rates among the black community was brought up at a town hall meeting organized by the group in November.

The national black student college graduation rate was 43 percent in 2007, according to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

About 6.2 percent of bachelor’s degrees earned at MSU went to black students during the 2006-07 school year, according to statistics provided by the Office of Planning and Budgets.

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[Christina Lowe, an advertising sophomore] said the dropout rate of black students could be because people allow these statistics to influence their goal to graduate.

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Group members said a disparity in the gender of graduating black students is another issue to consider. Of the 379 black students who graduated during the 2006-07 school year, 62 percent were women.

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