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Hispanic Serving Institutions should do more

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College is tough for everyone, but imagine dealing with its challenges while experiencing a language barrier, lack of financial support, being a first-generation college student or having to adapt to a whole new culture.

This is the reality for many Hispanic students.

Because of the challenges Hispanic students and other minorities face, President Johnson’s Higher Education Act was put in place to serve as a major source of financial assistance for low-income college students, allowing these individuals the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Under this act, Title III was established to provide support for universities with a dedication for educating all Americans—not just the majority and those who could afford it.

Title III of the Higher Education Act outlines criteria universities need to satisfy in order to be considered a Hispanic Serving Institution. The institution must have a full-time enrollment of at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate students.

HSIs must strive to bridge the financial and cultural gap Hispanic students face through financial aid, scholarships and programs designed to boost retention and graduation rates.

On Mar. 24, 2011, Texas State University-San Marcos was officially recognized as an HIS by the U.S. Department of Education.

“We are proud that our enrollment reflects the true changing face of Texas. We have achieved this important outcome because of the efforts of many individuals across the university, and I sincerely appreciate those efforts,” said Texas State President Denise Trauth.

Sadly, it seems as though Texas State’s dedication to helping Hispanic students began to decline after receiving HSI recognition.

With over 250 schools with the designation of HSI in 2010, the Department of Education awarded grants totaling more than $60 million to HSIs.

In 2012 Texas State University was allowed $456,387 in federal funds under the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program. However, money allocated under the HSIP has been distributed around campus to fund a broader range of organizations, and not groups that focus on Hispanic students.

Hispanics make up 33 percent of the student population.

Organizations such as Hombres Unidos, Latinas Unidas, Hispanic Policy Network and the PACE Minority Male Initiative exist to offer support from people of the same culture, providing peers with professional and personal development.

Alex Molina, senator-at-large, is working on legislation to boost retention rates among minority males by providing these students with resources such as immigration lawyers. Molina is also looking to expand diversity training.

Currently, historically black colleges and universities are devoting a substantial amount of research into investigating the cholesterol and blood sugar levels of black men. Unfortunately, this type of research is absent from most HSIs like Texas State, which has only recently offered minors in Latino studies and Latinos and the media.

With more than 12.8 percent of Hispanics affected by diabetes, it is a shame Texas State does not use its status as an emerging research institution to better examine the issues facing the community.

By 2050, 54 percent of the population will be made up of minorities, and according to The Department of Education, Hispanics will account for 60 percent of total population growth. Hispanic needs and research should become a focus, and not a way for institutions to make money.

Texas State should not be using its HSI designation as an attractant for prospective students. Instead, it ought to truly pursue the standard of what it means to be an HSI.

-Jakob R. Rodriguez is journalism freshman

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