Concerns of fairness for enrollment of low-income Black and Latino students at Baruch College is coming into question. The college is considering reducing the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) program in order to make room during construction on the campus. The program allows low-income students with exceptional academic qualities to go to City University of New York schools.
A vast number of students who are a part of the program are Black and Latino. On Thursday, a proposal will be voted on to reduce the size of the SEEK program below its budgeted number of 660 full-time students. If passed, the SEEK program would admit 100 fewer students, or 15.15 percent.
The college claims that the reduction is necessary because of the lack of space during ongoing construction on the campus. Nearly 300 seats need to be reduced in all. Baruch College has an enrollment of over 16,000 students.
The Baruch College faculty senate is advising that the administration include the faculty in the process of developing enrollment. They want to see an increased headcount of transfer students and the SEEK program restored to its budgeted number of full-time students. A number of faculty members at Baruch College are upset by the possible reduction and not being involved in the school’s enrollment decisions.
Dr. Sam Johnson, who teaches psychology at Baruch, said that he found out about the possible reduction two weeks ago. “I was quite surprised and upset that the SEEK program was going to take that kind of hit,” he said. “That’s the population that most accurately captures the true mission of the university. This really reflects the change in the school’s philosophy.”
Johnson added that students who are in the SEEK program are successful in terms of graduation rates and student performance. He said that by not admitting students, the SEEK program would be hindered from growing.
Baruch College’s vice president of student affairs, Dr. Ben Corpus, told the AmNews that the school is trying to maintain its enrollment. He said that Baruch is in the process of renovating one of its oldest buildings, which would take five classroom floors offline.
“The environment is going to be tight,” he said. “There is no question that there will be a lot more classes earlier in the morning and classes late at night.”
Corpus also said that no students would be taken out of the SEEK program, but notes that many students in the program are leaving because they don’t qualify. In order to be in SEEK, a student must be a full-time student.
Corpus attributes the economic crisis as a reason why many students in SEEK are taking jobs or doing internships, forcing them to become part- time students. When students leave SEEK, they give up tutoring, academic advisement and social activities.
Last year, Baruch enrolled close to 100 students in SEEK, according to Corpus, and hopes to do the same this year.