The University of Rochester decided to do something different: A hip-hop music video featuring the all-male a capella group Midnight Ramblers rapping and fist-pumping. The video — titled “Remember oUR Name” — was posted on You Tube last week and has already hit more than 60,000 views.
My reaction: Is this an effort by a private liberal arts school to recruit more male students, who are outnumbered by women on many campuses?
I didn’t spot many women in the video, and the pitch seems male-centric, especially when the singers pump iron at the gym, rap in a dining hall and on the football field, and visit two male administrators, including “Dean Pauly B.” Lyrics include, “See we’re 60 percent sports, 20 percent Greek, 9:1 faculty for students to seek.”
I called up Satyajit Dattagupta, Rochester’s director of enrollment communications, who said the video is intended to appeal to all prospective students — not just guys.
“I didn’t have any specific audience in mind,” said Dattagupta, who oversaw production of the in-house video. “The a capella group just happened to be an all-male group.”
Rochester is a private liberal arts school in upstate New York with more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university is known for its music program and, unlike most other places, it doesn’t require students to take any subjects in which they have no interest. The sticker price for tuition this year is $41,040.
The university has a nearly even split between the two sexes, with 52 percent women and 48 percent men. Elsewhere, the numbers often skew much more female, and some admissions departments have been aggressively recruiting qualified men to apply and enroll. The problem is especially pronounced at liberal arts schools.
Stevenson University in Maryland spent $500,000 in 2010 to create an intercollegiate football team from scratch in an effort to change its undergraduate enrollment of two women for every one man. The university immediately saw the number of men in its freshman class grow from 34 to 39 percent. Other universities had previously done the same — including Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, Merrimack College in Massachusetts and Shenandoah University in Virginia — and saw similar results.
But, again, the Rochester video just happens to feature all guys. And Dattagupta said that initial data he received from You Tube show that more women are viewing the video than men.