Forty Years After a Black Student Protest at Wagner College, Little Progress in Racial Diversity Has Occurred

Forty years ago, black students made up 3 percent of the enrollments at Wagner College on Staten Island, an outer borough of New York City. At that time black students mounted a peaceful occupation of a campus building. The students demanded the establishment of a black studies program and the hiring of one full-time faculty member in each academic department at the college.

Today blacks make up 5 percent of the student body. There is no black studies program and there is only one African American among the full-time faculty, an untenured member of the history department.

This spring several leaders of the black student protest returned to campus for a symposium on the events that took place 40 years ago. One black alumna told the Staten Island Advance, “Clearly nothing has changed. I am not surprised but I am disappointed.”