Though President Eric Kaler’s recent State of the University address successfully outlined a solid road map for the upcoming year, his plan for increasing diversity at the University of Minnesota didn’t cover all of a growing demographic.
“Another urgent challenge is ensuring that our University population mirrors the racial and cultural diversity of our state and nation,” Kaler said. He went on to highlight initiatives and leaders who would work to increase diversity, especially for African-American students.
He did not mention the second-fastest-growing minority population in the country today: Hispanics/Latinos.
It might surprise Kaler that the Twin Cities is one of the fastest-growing markets among Hispanics/Latinos. The local Hispanic population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013. Hispanics are the second-largest ethnic group nationwide.
It might also surprise Kaler that while the number of African-American students on the Twin Cities campus is less than 4 percent, the number of Hispanic students is lower, at less than 3 percent.
But what might surprise Kaler most of all is the fact that for the first time, more Hispanic/Latino high school graduates are enrolling in college than either white or black students. They’re just not at the University.
Economically, black and Hispanic people have national poverty rates within 2 percent of each other.
Academically, the public high school dropout rates are even closer and are only differ by 0.5 percent.
So what more must the Hispanic/Latino population do in order for Kaler to include them in diversity initiatives? Do administrators believe that the University’s lack of Hispanic/Latino students is a problem for diversity?
We want our kids to succeed, too. We want them to have access to high-quality post-secondary education.
Regardless of whether it was intentional, Kaler’s neglect to include the Hispanic/Latino population in his recent call for greater diversity speaks volumes.
In good conscience, Kaler simply cannot hope to increase diversity at the University until he first rethinks his spectrum of which groups need a greater presence on campus.