Race and Ethnicity Data Collection FAQ’s

Why is the university collecting data on race and ethnicity?

The new standards are part of federal education reports that districts and states submit to receive federal funds. Race and ethnicity have always been collected and reported to the U.S. Department of Education. The reports are required for federal eligibility and accountability reports. The Office for Civil Rights collects data to assist with its enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and national origin. Also, the university is asked by many, including accrediting associations, college guides, newspapers, and our own college/university communities, to describe the racial/ethnic backgrounds of our students and employees.

Why is the Federal government changing the way it collects race/ ethnicity information?

Research on the US census shows that many people have a complex identity. They belong to, identify with, or are regarded in the community as part of multiple race/ethnic categories. People find it difficult to limit their answers to a single race or ethnicity.

What are the major changes in collection and reporting practices?

The Department of Education requires educational institutions to use a two-part question. The first question asks whether the respondent is Hispanic/Latino; the second asks the respondent to choose one or more races with which he or she identifies.

The DOE’s final guidance also requires separating the category "Asian or Pacific Islander" into two separate categories, one for "Asian" and one for "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander." It broadens the definition for "Native American and Alaska Native" to include original peoples of North and South America (including Central America).

Is everyone asked to answer these questions?

Yes, all continuing students are being asked to respond to Student Profile Update form. Application forms for admission have been changed to collect information in the new format.

Is it required to collect Race/Ethnicity information?

The university is required to report information on the racial and ethnic diversity of students, faculty, and staff. However, the race/ethnicity questions are optional. You can choose not to answer the questions.

Can a person's nationality be used to determine his or her race/ethnicity?

No. Nationality is not a sufficient proxy for determining race or ethnicity. People of many different races and ethnicities live in a single country.

Why can't I pick a multiple race category like "2 or more races"?

You are asked instead to select each race and you can pick more than one race, in addition to selecting an ethnicity. The rules used by the federal Department of Education specifically prohibit the use of "2 or more races" as a collection category.

Can I just pick "non-resident alien"?

International students may or may not be Hispanic and may belong to any racial group. Visa status and citizenship are used to determine who is a US citizen and who has permanent residency.

What are the definitions for the ethnic and racial categories?

The Department of Education has provided these definitions:

  • Hispanic or Latino: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment.
  • Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
  • White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

How will race/ethnicity data be reported to the federal government?

  • Respondents who indicate that they are Hispanic/Latino will be reported to the federal government as Hispanic/Latino, regardless of their race.
  • Respondents who check "No" to the Hispanic/Latino question and select one racial category will be reported in that category.
  • Respondents who check "No" to the Hispanic/Latino question and select more than one racial category will be reported to the federal government as "two or more races."
  • Given these reporting rules, it is likely that the number of individuals being reported as Hispanic/Latino will increase, and the reported numbers of all other race‐specific categories will decrease.

I am Hispanic. Why should I answer both questions?

Race and Hispanic origin are considered to be two separate and distinct categories by the federal government. Even though you’ll be reported to the federal government as Hispanic/Latino, it’s still important for the university’s non-federal reporting to have as complete a picture as possible of the racial and ethnic backgrounds of its students, faculty, and staff.

I’m in the U.S. on a temporary visa. Does it matter if I answer the questions?

You’ll be reported to the federal government as "non-resident alien," regardless of the race or ethnicity you indicate. However, it’s helpful for the university to know your racial/ethnic identification for purposes of any non-federal reporting.

What if I don’t answer the questions?

The university will report whatever demographic information it currently has available for you. If there is no information in SIS, you will be reported as "race/ethnicity unknown."

Will my name be included when reporting race and ethnicity data?

No, names are never reported. Racial/ethnic data are reported only in aggregate form.

Will internal reporting of race/ethnicity data be different?

Yes, internal and other reporting will be different from federal reporting. The university will be able to provide a maximum count for each racial/ethnic group - count that includes all individuals who selected a specific category, whether or not they are Hispanic/Latino or multi - racial. This will allow us to show the full extent of diversity on campus.

Why doesn't the survey include a choice like "refuse to answer"?

The university is not permitted to use that type of response to collect the data.