Faculty senators discussed the differences between racial and ethnic identifiers and the problem incurred with them not being reported separately.
Joseph Meyer, director at Institutional Research, said the department revised the way the university collected race and ethnicity information due to changes from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010. Meyer said the university does allow students to select Hispanic as an ethnicity as well as the individual’s race and stores the imputed data separately.
Race refers to physical features such as skin, eye and hair color, as well as bone and jaw structure. Ethnicity refers to cultural features such as nationality, culture, language and ancestry.
However Meyer said the university does not report race and ethnicity separately because many other institutions in the state and region do not report it that way. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Voluntary System of Accountability and Common Data Set do not separate Hispanic as an ethnicity but incorporate the data into an aggregated system of race and ethnicity, Meyer said.
According to Meyer, these institutions use a hierarchy system that establishes Hispanics.
“If they (the individual) indicate Hispanic then that trumps everything else in their report,” Meyer said. “It doesn’t matter if they indicate another race they are reported (as Hispanic) there.”
Meyer said if an individual does select Hispanic and selects a single race then that individual will go into the single race category.
Meyer said Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has an interest in African American and Hispanic enrollment.
“If somebody has selected multiple races and one of them is African American then they go ahead and put them into African American category,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the university allows for the student or faculty member to select a race or multiple races that apply to the individual.
“Actually there are a few people that check every single race that is listed,” Meyer said.
Susan Weill, journalism and mass communication senator, said the university is counting students that specify themselves as Hispanic as a race instead of separately distinguishing them in an ethnic category.
“So my black student that is Hispanic gets counted as Hispanic but not black,” said Weill.
Weill said Hispanic is an ethnicity identifier and not a race determination.
Debra Feakes, chemistry and biochemistry senator, said it seems to distort the university’s racial enrollment.
According to a preliminary enrollment report in fall 2012, 28 percent of students enrolled at the university were Hispanic. Seven percent of students were African Americans, 57 percent White, 1 percent International students, 4 percent multi-racial and 3 percent identified as unknown.
In reference to the same report, enrollment percentages for fall 2013 are 30 percent Hispanic, 8 percent African American, 55 percent White, 1 percent international, 4 percent multi-racial and 2 percent unknown.