As its Latin American population grows, UT Austin is wary of backlash to become an institution serving Hispanics

From Texas Standard:

The University of Texas at Austin is now recognized by the United States Department of Education as a Hispanic service institution, since Latinos now make up at least 25% of its undergraduate population. This means that the university is now eligible for special federal grants and loans.

But NBC Latino reporter Suzanne Gamboa told Texas Standard that the university quietly announced the designation in September, trying to avoid possible “backlash” from those who might misinterpret it as some sort of quota system.

The designation has been a long time coming, as Hispanics, and people of Mexican descent in particular, have been part of Texas since its inception but have often been excluded or discriminated against in the public education system.

“There have been all kinds of ways that Mexican Americans have been kept out of higher education through segregation in public schools, by… telling Mexican-American students that they don’t ‘were really not’ academic material ‘, ”Gamboa said.

The exclusion also came from the fact that the state deprives the educational resources of the predominantly Hispanic or Mexican-American communities – Gamboa cites the west of San Antonio, where his parents are from, as an example. And the United States Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas, which aimed to stop affirmative action in UT college admissions, is another example.

“So you slow down the ability of people to reach higher education levels,” she said.

While the new designation is successful, she says it took the university more than a century to grow its Hispanic student body to this size, although Mexican Americans are a core community in Texas. – and growing fast: Latinos are on the verge of being Texas’ largest population group.

Many other University of Texas institutions have the Hispanic service designation, but Gamboa says UT Austin was reluctant to celebrate his accomplishment.

“They have been very careful with their language to talk about ‘service in the broad sense’,” she said. In other words, with the new designation, “they weren’t just serving Hispanics, but by serving Hispanics, they have these programs that can serve anyone.”

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