Support group helps Hispanic, black students

By Moin H. Khan

Black and Hispanic students will have a new support group available this fall as NIU continues its fight against alienation of minority students on campus.

The Minority Student Assistance Program, which will operate on a trial basis, is designed to help incoming minority students who were admitted according to standard admission requirements, said Allen Ottens, staff psychologist at NIU’s Counseling and Student Development Center.

In order to be admitted, a student must be in the upper one-half of his high school graduating class and have a minimum ACT score of 17 or be in the upper two-thirds of his class with an ACT score of at least 22.

Ottens, who runs the program, said one reason for the program is that about one-third of the targeted group leave school after their freshman year.

The goal of MSAP “is to increase the retention rate of these students by aiding in their personal development and maintaining their feelings of satisfaction with NIU,” said Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs.

“We want to make students feel that they have found a nitch here with people who care about their situation,” Ottens said.

e said these students are capable of excelling and competing satisfactorily and “it is unfortunate that some of these talented students would not continue through with the college career.”

Although some programs such as this might be cut because of the recent budget situation, Barbara Henly, assistant vice president for student affairs, said MSAP will not require any funding because it will be run within the existing system.

Wanda Nelson, who also is a counselor at the development center, said, “It will give the students support people, new friends, someone they can talk to who knows the ropes—who has been here and survived.”

Although the 696 black and Hispanic students who qualify for the program were invited to participate, only 100 can be accomodated in the fall, Nelson said. Acceptance will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nelson and Ottens plan to evaluate the program’s effectiveness by comparing retention rates for MSAP participants and a control group and by measuring levels of development and satisfaction with NIU.

An orientation meeting for both peer counselors and new student participants is scheduled for Aug. 30.