Black Enterprise magazine has again ranked Georgetown among the top five of non-historically black colleges in the nation in its annual “50 Best Colleges for African Americans” survey.

Georgetown ranked 11 overall in the magazine’s October 2004 issue, falling from the ninth position it had held since 2001. Six of the top 10 schools were Historically Black Colleges, with orehouse College occupying the top spot.

Georgetown followed Stanford, Columbia, Harvard and Duke universities, respectively, for ranking among non-HBCs.

Some students, however, feel that the ranking is undeserved.

“The ranking is not justified based on [my] four years of being the only African American in the majority of my classes,” Jason Fiebig (SFS ’05) said.

The Black Enterprise rankings have been in dispute since 1999 when they began and Georgetown debuted in the 11th spot.

In 2001, African American faculty and students spoke out in THE HOYA, saying the honor was not fully deserved.

Dennis A. Williams, director of the Center for Minority Educational Affairs and English professor, lamented Georgetown’s lack of an African American Studies program, the lack of African American faculty and no Greek social life for African American students.

Since then, Georgetown has added an African American Studies minor and numerous on campus initiatives to support African Americans, including the Center for Minority Educational Affairs, the Diversity Working Group, the African American Advisory Board and initiatives such as Pluralism in Action and Y-LEAD.

Despite these curricular changes, groups and initiatives, Williams said that he continues to feel the same way.

“If there is a public perception that Georgetown is one of the best schools in the country for African Americans, that is a good thing,” he said. “But we have done little since the advent of these rankings to make it so – or to improve our position.”

Joseph Almeida (COL ’05) agreed with Williams. “[I am] appalled to even fathom Georgetown’s high status by [Black Enterprise] when we do not have an African American Studies department, major or a curriculum that even remotely supports and encourages African American studies,” he said.

Other students cited recent events of racial insensitivity, including a racist e-mail sent to Georgetown’s Black Student Alliance last spring, as reasons why the ranking is not deserved.

Nazareth Haysbert (SFS ’05) said he recognized the improvement of the new African American Studies minor, but that more changes must be made.

“One thing is certain. After this past year, we do not deserve a ranking,” he said. “The letter and its surrounding furor highlights a void in our student body which cannot be explained away or patched up with improvisational improvements in the way we address racial bias.”

Respondents said the perception of Georgetown as a “good black school” stems from a multitude of factors, including its Washington, D.C., location, the mostly African American and highly successful basketball team of the 1980s and 1990s, and cameos in so-called “urban” movies such as Save the Last Dance and Boyz `N the Hood.

Despite some students’ disappointment, there are still others who believe that the ranking could be justified.

“I see a lot more African Americans in the class of 2008 than in my year,” Rosemary Owusu (COL ’06), said. “Although the African American certificate was just introduced last year, I think Georgetown is on its way to being more inclusive.”

The Black Enterprise ranking was based on a survey of 1,855 “black higher education professionals” who were asked to rate schools based on whether or not they felt the school provided a “good social and educational environment for African Americans.”

According to Black Enterprise, they incorporated a methodology modeled after U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.” But Georgetown ranked 112th in U.S. News’ 2004 ranking of “Campus Diversity,” scoring 0.37 on a 1.0 scale.

African American students comprised 6.7 percent of the undergraduate student body at Georgetown last year.

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