A university’s Latino enrollment reflects progress — and the legacy of racism

By: | May 18, 2021

In a low-key announcement last fall, the University of Texas at Austin declared that it had reached a significant milestone.

UT-Austin, which is in the state with the second-largest number of Latinos nationally, had finally enrolled enough full-time Latino undergraduates to be considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution, or HSI.

UT-Austin’s full-time or equivalent undergraduate population was 26.1 percent Hispanic last fall. The threshold for the federal designation is at least 25 percent, and if it meets other federal criteria, the university can compete for grant money.

“Having the flagship university achieve HSI status is momentous, provided that it’s about equity and not just enrollment,” said John Morán González, director of UT-Austin’s Center for Mexican American Studies.

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