COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Newly released data from the University of Maryland shows that the number of first-year black students enrolled dropped sharply this fall, to an eight-year low.

Provost Mary Ann Rankin said in a Wednesday statement that “the tragic incidents of the last two years” likely played a role in the decline.

That includes the May 2017 on-campus fatal stabbing of black Bowie State University student Richard W. Collins III, which is being prosecuted as a hate crime. A white former University of Maryland student is charged.

The Baltimore Sun reports 7.3 percent of the freshman class is black — roughly 340 of 4,700 students.

The university has pledged to strengthen diversity, with plans to appoint an Enrollment Action Council, increase financial aid offerings and hire a coordinator to boost recruitment efforts.

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