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Thursday December 2nd

Here's how the University's demographics have changed over the past 10 years

<p>DTH Photo Illustration. Female-identifying computer science majors at UNC Chapel Hill turn to each other for support as they navigate being in a male-dominated department.</p>
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DTH Photo Illustration. Female-identifying computer science majors at UNC Chapel Hill turn to each other for support as they navigate being in a male-dominated department.

Over the past decade, the demographics at UNC have transformed. Ethnically, the school has diversified — the populations of Asian and LatinX students have increased. At the same time, more students have majored in STEM disciplines, especially computer science. 

The changing demographics of campus reflect trends in the state. Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian population in North Carolina grew by 85 percent, and has outpaced Latinx growth since 2010. Between 2010 and 2017, the Latinx population increased by 22 percent, which was more than white and African American growth. 

In the 2009-10 school year, 7.4 percent of the student body identified as Asian and 5.2 percent identified as Hispanic. In 2019, the number increased to 11 percent for Asians and 8.2 percent for Latinx. Meanwhile, the percentage of Black students decreased by almost 3 percent and the percentage of white students decreased by 9 percent. 

“(The changing demographics reflect) the 82 percent of North Carolinians in terms of who they accept,” said Gretchen Bellamy, the senior director for education, operations and initiatives at the University Office for Diversity & Inclusion. 

The increase in Latinx and Asian American students has led to efforts for more representation on campus. 

This year, it was announced the Carolina Latinx Center was to officially open in Abernathy Hall. The announcement came after years of campaigning from the Latinx community, and Mi Pueblo Co-President Elizabeth Ordoñez said the growing population over the past decade was one of the main reasons for its formation.

“It is not forgotten how long and arduous the process was,” Ordoñez said. “It took over a decade to receive this (center). Although it’s clear that the University is moving towards listening to and caring for our community, it is not nearly enough.”

Over the years, the community has adjusted to the growing population. Mi Pueblo added a Professional Development Chairperson to support Latinx students academically, and the organization changed its name from the Carolina Hispanic Association in 2018 to be more inclusive to the wider community.

“We are the fastest growing minority group at UNC, but often overlooked by administration,”  Ordoñez said. “We don’t feel that we are thought of during major, campus-wide decisions as much as other groups, minority or not. This is why Mi Pueblo has made one of our pillars for the past few years ‘presence.’”

Junior Sean Nguyen is leading the Asian American Center Student Advisory Board, which intends to open an Asian American Center next fall. The campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few months — and its next steps are to present a plan to the Board of Trustees.

Although the population of Asians on campus has increased, Nguyen said the community has wanted a center well beyond the past decade.

“Alumni from 10 years ago were telling me that if you saw an Asian in the quad you would make eye contact with them,” Nguyen said. “And people would stop and look, because it’s so rare to see two Asians talking to each other.”

Although Asian student circles have grown, Nguyen said students still have to organize themselves.

“We’re a population that has to fend for ourselves sometimes,” Nguyen said. 

In terms of gender distribution, UNC’s 60-40 ratio of women to men has remained constant from 2009 to 2019. Additionally, the amount of out-of state-undergraduates was 16 percent in 2009 and 15 percent in 2019, remaining largely the same percentage. 

Regarding majors, STEM fields such as computer science, mathematics and physical sciences had among the largest percent increases across the decade. The computer science program in particular has had rapid growth over the past ten years, with 4.86 percent of undergraduate degrees awarded in the subject in 2018 compared to 1 percent in 2009. 

“It’s not unique to us, can be traced back to the amount of impact, internet, social media and mobile phones has had on our lives,” computer science professor Kris Jordan said. 

Jordan said the program has added over 1,200 majors while only adding only three more faculty members. 

“We have serious growth issues and are reaching a point where we may have to limit employment,” Jordan said.

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