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OSU tries to recruit more African American males to campus

January is just about the midseason point in the college application process. Students are filing their applications, applying for financial aid and making decisions.

Ohio State University is finding that not very many African American students, especially African American men, are enrolling at OSU. Officials say they are trying to change that.

The numbers are startling - in the fall of 2005, nearly 59-hundred freshman enrolled at OSU. 418 were African American, off those only 156 were black men. On campus, African American women outnumber African American men 3 to 1.

One of those African- American students is Dezmon Landers - a third year financial management major. Often he is the only African- American in his classes.

Actually it wets my appetite when I walk into a class and I'm the only African American in there. I look at it as a challenge to disprove all the stereo types, Landers said.

In an effort to boost those numbers, OSU has established the African American male resource center. The center tries to recruit African American men. It's running spots on radio stations with young black audiences.

The center also offers academic support for students. and studies the reasons why black men are not opting for college.

The program's coordinator, Eric troy partly blames a culture that glorifies sports and entertainers. For dissuading black men from attending college.

The see instamatic in sports and entertainment a lot of times so if I can go to the NBA with possibly not going to college or if I want to go into the entertainment industry I can rap, shoot videos, whatever the case may be, Troy said.

Troy says sports and entertainment is less of a draw for African American women.

Troy also faults a lack of role models to inspire African American men to pursue college.

They may not have an African American professor or teacher or principal.

OSU student Dezmon Landers blames a culture among black youth that looks down upon education.

You really feel ostracized , Landers said.

Not everyone agrees that a low number of African American college students is a societal problem. Author Boyce Watkins has written a college guide for minority students. He received his PhD at Ohio State and is now a finance professor at Syracuse University. He says dreams of sports and entertainment are not at fault. He says OSU should look inside for answers.

You claim that you cannot find black students for your university but you can find the next great black athlete to save your athletic program.

Watkins agrees that a lack of role models and African American teachers in the lower grades is a big factor but he says OSU and other colleges need to make African Americans feel more welcome.

There's the notion that we are invited on campus to play sports but we not invited to be administrators.

OSU's Eric Troy agrees that college administrators need to do a better job But troy says college administrators cannot do it alone... Parents as well as elementary and high school educators and parents to encourage college for African American boys.

Central State University, a historically black university in Wilberforce has not had the same problem OSU has. It's male and female black student population is about even. Central state's assistant director of admissions Karen Hunt credits the school's tradition...

It's probably because many of their parents have attended one. Or they've heard about the university and wanted to attend, usually it's one of those commitments that prompts them to attend, Hunt said.

At OSU's African American male resource center, troy says they are making headway. Enrollment numbers are growing, as are retention rates. But he says it will take time for OSU and other schools to see the numbers they are striving for.