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Spring Visitation weekends approach

Molly Madden | Thursday, February 11, 2010

As spring slowly approaches, high school seniors anxiously await their acceptance letters to the university of their choice. However, while many potential Notre Dame students begin to decide whether or not to make their home under the Dome, the University is reaching out to minority students in an effort to bring more diversity to campus.

Spring Visitation 2010 — an event held annually for high-talented prospective minority students — will host its first group of high school seniors Feb. 25-28, with two more weekends in March.

Spring Visitation is an all-expenses-paid visit for 225 minority students to come to campus and experience life at Notre Dame for a weekend in the hope they will select the University as their home for the next four years.

“Spring Visitation is an opportunity for the University to reach out to highly talented minorities,” Spring Visitation recruitment coordinator and senior Erdina Francillon said. “Our work is to specifically target minority groups since there is a diversity problem on campus.”

Francillon is a member of a five-person team that spends the year recruiting minority students to Notre Dame. She and senior Kristine Yuen, junior Steven Corrales and sophomores Amanda Meza and Raymond Umipig spend much of the fall semester calling potential applicants and then the spring semester organizing and participating in Spring Visitation weekends.

“When the students come up here for Spring Visitation, we show them what Notre Dame is about,” Yuen said. “We take them to the different departments, they meet the faculty, go to classes, Mass and multicultural events.”

Spring Visitation success rates have been good over the past few years; 51 percent of the students who attended last year’s visit entered Notre Dame as members of the Class of 2013.

Corrales, who attended Spring Visitation as a high school senior, said his weekend on campus gave him a very positive outlook on a school he had previously known little about.
“Spring Visitation changed my life,” he said. “I hadn’t been considering Notre Dame at all but once I got here that completely changed; after a few hours of being on campus I really saw myself here.”

Francillon said it’s very common for minority students like Corrales to come to visit the University and to know very little about the school and the community.

“In our experience, we have found that Notre Dame does not hold the same weight in the minority communities like it does in the white communities,” she said. “Minorities have heard of the school but we have to give them a reason to go here when they are also considering schools like Harvard and Yale.”

Meza said it’s the community spirit of Notre Dame that they hope to show to the students.
“The way campus impacts people when they get here is crucial,” she said. “It really is the community. You can’t describe it and you have to experience it to know what it’s truly like, but it’s something that I want to give the same opportunity to others.”

Umipig agreed, and said, “Spring Visitation is really the best opportunity we have to expose these students to what Notre Dame has to offer them.”

All five recruitment officers believe Spring Visitation is necessary because of the lack of diversity within the student body. In the Class of 2013, minorities account for 25 percent of the students.

“I don’t think the diversity on campus has really changed since I was a freshman,” Francillon said. “The numbers are there but you don’t have to look at them to know that diversity is a problem; all you have to do is look around and you can see that it’s a problem.”

Yuen said greater awareness needs to be raised so non-minority students have a better understanding of the issues facing Notre Dame’s lack of diversity.

“When people use the word ‘diversity’ there is a stigma attached,” she said. “Non-minorities hear the word and don’t think that it applies to them so there is a constant challenge.”
Francillon said the diversity situation at Notre Dame is not unique.

“The diversity issues at Notre Dame are issues that are being faced in any area of affluence,” she said. “There needs to be recognition that this is something that requires a collective effort.”