First day sees rise in minorities

<p>If UF seemed more crowded than usual on Wednesday, it was because 49,864 students were enrolled for the first day of classes - 1,432 more than last year. </p>

<p>Minority enrollment also increased on UF's first day. Compared with last year's figures, more Hispanic, Asian-American and black students were signed up for the start of classes, while Native-American enrollment held steady at 0.3 percent. </p>

<p>The university as a whole is educating more students, but its freshmen class shrank by about 500 students this year to 6,760. </p>

<p>To counterbalance last Fall's bloated incoming class, UF admitted fewer freshmen this year than it has since 1991. The excess freshmen crammed their dormitory rooms and lecture halls. </p>

<p>UF Provost Janie Fouke said this year's freshman class is more manageable for the university. </p>

<p>"There will be fewer people standing in line and unable to get into their classes," she said. </p>

<p>Black freshmen also showed in greater numbers this Fall than their 2005 predecessors, as 901 black students attended class the first day. </p>

<p>The increase could be attributed to a more welcoming atmosphere at UF and more attention to minority-student needs, Fouke said. </p>

<p>Last year, UF President Bernie Machen set up the Florida Opportunity Scholars program, a scholarship designed to attract a more diverse student body. </p>

<p>The scholarship was announced too late to increase the number of minority students who applied to UF, but it probably affected the amount of applicants who decided to attend UF, Fouke said. About half of those who apply to UF choose to come to the university. </p>

<p>In his State of the University Address on Thursday, Machen said his scholarship should support about 400 students this year. </p>

<p>Manny Fernandez, chairman of the university's Board of Trustees, wrote in an e-mail that UF's diversity-recruitment efforts are off to "a pretty good start" but still have "a long ways to go." </p>

<p>First-day enrollment figures for UF freshmen also included 565 Asian Americans, 946 Hispanics and 20 Native Americans. White students make up 59.3 percent of the freshman class with 4,009 students, and women outnumber men in that class at 53.1 percent. </p>

<p>Official enrollment numbers will not be tallied until after the drop/add period, said UF spokesman Steve Orlando. </p>

<p>Although administrators say UF still has a long way to go as it works to increase minority enrollment, the university has many multicultural organizations that encourage diversity on campus. </p>

<p>Dennis Ngin, president of the Asian American Student Union, said UF students should learn about cultures other than their own. </p>

<p>"For our campus to appreciate diversity, people need to break out of their comfort zones and experience other cultures," Ngin said. </p>

<p>He said he plans to attend other multicultural organizations' events to promote diversity awareness. The Asian American Student Union wants to not only attract Asian-American freshmen but also students who are interested in Asian culture, he said. </p>

<p>Fouke said more cross-cultural interaction and higher minority enrollment will improve UF. </p>

<p>"It's my experience that a more diverse group of folks comes up with a better solution to problems," she said. "That's the overriding asset to having a diverse campus." </p>

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<p>Check out this website that discusses the Minority Outreach Recruiting Programs.</p>

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