, 2022-08-08 07:09:09,
On May 7, Metro State University (MSU) announced that Indigenous students who are admitted to MSU can attend tuition-free, beginning this fall. It also extended the scope of their Displaced Aurarians Scholarship to cover full tuition and exist in perpetuity.
MSU is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and more than half of the student body identifies as BIPOC. However, less than 100 students at MSU identify as Native American or Alaskan Native. Knowing this is linked to a history of colonization, MSU Denver worked on their first institutional initiative to increase the rate of Indigenous students attending and graduating from higher education. By creating a tuition-free pathway to higher education, the school hopes to address the harm caused by the displacement of Indigenous peoples and, additionally, descendants of displaced Denver Aurarians.
A History of Acute and Widespread Displacement
MSU is working to address its ties to the history of displaced Aurarians. Auraria is Denver’s oldest neighborhood; it was home to many European and Mexican immigrants. In the early 1970s, the city led an initiative to build Speer Boulevard and MSU Denver’s Auraria campus right over an entire neighborhood. Residents were forcibly displaced, resulting in the loss of wealth, community and culture.
READ: Indigenous Elders Take a Hard Look at the Front Range’s Untold History
The displacement of Denver’s Auraria neighborhood follows a long pattern of colonial behavior from early pioneers and the State of Colorado. Since their arrival in 1803, white American colonizers were successful in their mission to forcibly and violently remove entire Indigenous societies in order to create the State of Colorado, based on Euro-Western values. The impacts of this displacement are far-reaching through each generation of Indigenous people. 14.5% of Indigenous people in the United States have a college degree, compared to 31.3% of people overall. Those who do attend college face a myriad of barriers to earning their degree. 41% of Indigenous students graduate within six years, versus 61% of students overall.
In 2021, the state passed the Colorado American Indian Tribes In-State Tuition Act. The bill requires state higher-education institutions to offer a form of in-state tuition to Indigenous students who are members of a tribal nation and have historical ties to the state. MSU took this further, deciding to…
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