Why does mention of St. Cloud, Minnesota, evoke such disrespect, laughter and ridicule among so many people of color? Why does St. Cloud State University (SCSU) fraudulently count Black students who transferred away, then graduated from other schools, as SCSU graduates?
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“SCSU’s contributions to successful outcomes for Black students go well beyond those reflected in its six-year graduation rates. For example, if you include those who built a foundation at SCSU, transferred, and then went on to graduate elsewhere, then 40% of Black students in SCSU’s 2000 and 2001 entering classes combined have graduated. Further, an additional 15% of those two combined classes were enrolled at other institutions in Spring 2009.” (source: “Tracking and improving success among SCSU’s Black undergraduate students;” second edition, pg. 5, 2010)
Within the last twelve months SCSU has claimed African American/Black student graduation rates of 33%, 52% and 36% (source: Internet’s “College Navigator”). Each fall the St. Cloud Times publishes SCSU’s categorical and total student enrollment numbers, but data on Black student graduates for 2003-2010 is secret.
SCSU records contain several student data sets/information categories (i.e. full names, campus, home and e-mail addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, transcripts, fees/tuition payment status and ethnic-racial group), yet Black student retention rates are carefully guarded. Why are 75% of SCSU’s Black students gone by year three? (“Is it safe to send our children to St. Cloud?” editorial: Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, 2/7/2007; “Achievement gap extends to state’s higher education;” Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, 11/3/2010)
SCSU claimed 173 Black students in 2000, with 25 as “entering freshman.” Their class (or “cohort”) graduated in 2006. After six years (2000-2006), only 7 Black undergraduate students received degrees. Three critical issues exist for prospective Black students, parents and those concerned with Black student safety in racially hostile St. Cloud: (a) Why were only 25 Black freshmen among 173 total Black students in 2000? (b) What conditions explain SCSU’s low Black student retention rates? and (c) Why are Black students, who elected to transfer away from SCSU to colleges and universities in safer, sane and more welcoming communities, still counted as SCSU graduates? (source: “Tracking and improving success among SCSU’s Black undergraduate students;” second edition, pg. 1, 2010)
Is it devious, hypocritical and/or naive to invite or recruit Black students to a campus and community so well known for racial hostilities? Evidently, Black students were not initially welcome according to a community survey finding. (“Minority recruitment unpopular;” St. Cloud Daily Times, 4/15/1985)
SCSU president, Earl Potter, admitted local racism and threats of violence can discourage students of color, “We know that when people feel a lack of safety, learning is impaired.” “This hurts the ability to focus and learn.” (SCSU minority student reports ‘Nazi salute;'” Star Tribune, 12/18/07)
For SCSU, Black student recruiting and public relations requires avoiding issues of race, hiding retention problems and inflating graduation rates. If SCSU recruiters and city propagandists suggest racial hostilities might be subsiding, ask St. Cloud’s Somalis. Recent news media reports imply racial harassment targeting Blacks has increased. (“Somali population, cultural tension rising in St. Cloud;” Minnesota Public Radio, 3/15/2010; “CAIR [Council on American Islamic Relations] asks FBI to investigate anti-Somali vandalism;” Minnesota Public Radio, 7/9/2010)
A tiny sample from thousands of similarly revealing newspaper headlines over the years illustrates why so many SCSU Black students leave before graduating: “Foreign students targets of racial slurs, violence;” St. Cloud Daily Times, 12/18/1986; “College not dealing with abuse of minorities;” SCS Chronicle, 5/12/1987; “Evidence of racism abounds;” St. Cloud Times, 3/5/1998; “Molotov cocktail used in attack: Another violent incident spurs students to question safety in St. Cloud and at St. Cloud State;” University Chronicle, 11/16/98; “Enrollment increases but racial problems still exist;” University Chronicle, 11/14/2005; “Is it safe to send our children to St. Cloud?” Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, editorial: 2/7/2007; “Swastikas, Cross-burning symbol found at SCSU;” Associated Press,12/13/2007; “St. Cloud State’s ‘challenges’ forged strong alumni bonds;” Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder; 8/6/2009; “St. Cloud’s history of friction with outsiders,” Minnesota Public Radio, 7/30/2010)
St. Cloud mayors either fear political suicide for opposing racism or they support the city’s racist reputation. Unlike significantly improved campus-community race relations in Mankato and Rochester, St. Cloud’s city government, local police, majority white residents, politicians and public school officials psychotically refuse to admit, much less confront, obvious racism. SCSU administration has little, if any, influence in City Hall (whose officials absurdly claim St. Cloud is among the world’s “most livable” and “most secure” cities). (“St. Cloud wins 3rd [most] livable community award;” St. Cloud Times, 11/9/2010)