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The Columbia Chronicle

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Editorial: Columbia should celebrate becoming Hispanic-serving institution


Columbia is a Hispanic-serving institution, an important milestone that celebrates our diversity. 

The college’s Hispanic student population has been growing since 2019 when it was 18.6%. In Fall 2022, it reached 25.1%, and a year later, it climbed even higher to 28.2% of 6,529 students, according to Columbia’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

The college is a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, which recognizes colleges that have at least a quarter of their student population who are Hispanic. That membership offers access to multiple grants, scholarships, resources and programming for career development. 

According to Nate Bakkum, senior associate provost, the college is planning to form a task force of students, faculty and staff to help in its efforts to secure federal grant funding, the next step.

That grant funding is critical, especially at a time when the college is trying to address a $38 million financial deficit.

Being recognized as an HSI demonstrates the appeal of Columbia to Hispanic students. 

But in order to maintain enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds, Columbia needs to recognize their particular needs for financial support and provide academic and other resources. 

There are things the college can do even before it becomes eligible next year to apply for the federal funding. 

It can provide more communication in Spanish, including at Parent’s Weekend, Manifest and commencement, where parents of Hispanic students are most likely to be. Once the hiring freeze is lifted, it can prioritize recruiting Spanish-speaking faculty and staff. The college also can host more programs and events dedicated to Latinx culture and heritage, so the rest of the community can learn more about it.

We’d also like to see the student Latino Alliance play a bigger role at the college. Like the Student Government Association, they should be at the table for critical conversations around cuts and restructuring and how the college is going to address its financial problems. 

Being an HSI institution is something to celebrate, but with 1,000 fewer students expected in the fall, it’s important that Columbia works to keep the designation. 

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