As its Latin American population grows, UT-Austin is wary of backlash to become an institution serving Hispanics
The University of Texas at Austin is now recognized by the US Department of Education as an institution serving Hispanics, with Latinos now making up at least 25% of its undergraduate population. This means that the university is now eligible for special federal grants and loans.
But the Latino journalist from NBC Suzanne Gamboa told Texas Standard that the university actually quietly announced the designation in September, trying to avoid a potential “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 by segregating public schools, telling Mexican-American students that they really weren’t right. ‘academic material’, ”Gamboa said.
Exclusion has also manifested itself in the form of state deprivation of educational resources from predominantly Hispanic or Mexican communities – Gamboa cites western San Antonio, where his parents are from, as example. And the United States Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas, which aimed to end affirmative action in UT college admissions, is another example.
“So you slow down the ability of people to achieve higher levels of education,” she said.
While the new designation is successful, she says it took more than a century for the university to grow its Hispanic student body to this size, although Mexican Americans are a core community in Texas – and growing. quick: Latinos are poised to be Texas’ largest population group.
Several other University of Texas institutions have the Hispanic-Serving designation, but Gamboa says UT-Austin was reluctant to celebrate its success.
“They were very careful with their language to talk about ‘general service’,” 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.” “