By Robert Jalon
City College is approaching its second semester of 25 percent Latino enrollment required to join the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and apply for federal funds under Title V of the Higher Education Act.
The association was the driving force behind Congress formally recognizing campuses with high Hispanic enrollment as federally designated Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Such colleges can receive institutional funding from the HACU, which in 2016 gave out over $100 million.
“We have been trying to do this for about two decades,” said professor Edgar Torres, department chair of Latin American and Latino/Latina Studies. ”We’ve been attending HACU conferences, and little by little we were creeping up and we knew that it was going to happen eventually.”
To qualify, an institution must maintain 25 percent Latino enrollment for two years and 50 percent of its student enrollment must be needs-based.
Interim vice chancellor of student development Samuel Santos and dean of the City College Mission Campus Jorge Bell are the main administrators working for this cause.
The college is predominantly a school of color. Its website graphics showown website has graphics showing that white people comprised just a little over 18 percent of the school’s enrollment this past term, according to Torres.
“If you take Asian Americans at 30 percent and Latinos at 25 percent, we’re going to be well over 70 percent [non-white] if you add in Filipinos, Pacific Islanders and African Americans,” Torres said.
Santos said the effort recognizes City College’s diversity and highlights the fact that the college serves an underrepresented student population.
He is confident about reaching the threshold, adding that HSI status would do more than allow funds to be brought into the school. It would also increase the college’s visibility, making it more attractive for students to not just enroll, but to enroll in diversity studies.
“Sort of on our forefront has been the accreditation and enrollment… once we get past this week, we’ll be looking at all kinds of initiatives regarding enrollment,” Torres said.
He was referring to City College’s battle with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which visited the college for the last time during the week of Oct. 10.
Despite the focus on accreditation, Torres said Trustee Brigitte Davila has been an advocate for HSI qualification and he sees others becoming more engaged. In addition, Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb has checked in with him three times this semester about the HSI effort.
“At the last meeting, her opening address was asking me a question about what’s new at this institution. It was to lead into the fact that we have achieved the 25 percent threshold that was on Sept. 9,” Torres said.
Torres is of the opinion that if Lamb continues to look at their efforts to qualify for HSI, they might identify ways to effectively utilize funds that will benefit not just Latino students, but ultimately the entire student population.