The number of Latino applicants to UCSC rose 23 percent for the 2011–2012 school year, according to the website of the University of California Office of the President.
As of 2009, UCSC’s Latino and Chicano students made up 18 percent of the undergraduate population, while the percentage of applicants was 21 percent.
If UCSC’s Latino population reaches 25 percent, the school will be recognized as a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI).This designation provides schools with grants and support services.
“It’s a source of revenue that would be very, very helpful,” said Patricia Zavella, professor of Latin American and Latino studies (LALS) and department chair.
Of 26,136 first-year UCSC applicants from California, 27.4 percent were Latino. This is 2 percentage points fewer than the number of Asian-American applicants, according to the website of the University of California Office of the President.
Michelle Whittingham, associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and director of admissions, is certain UCSC will receive the designation.
“That’s going to be real exciting, not if, but when we get there,” Whittingham said. “It’ll really be potentially the next year or two.”
Third-year LALS major Chris Cuadrado is looking for more than just an increase in the enrollment of students of color. Cuadrado, an active member in “El Centro,” the Chicano Latino Resource Center, said he would rather the university do more to encourage the involvement of students of color on campus.
“For the university to reflect the population, the university’s resources need to be available to the general population,” he said.
Currently, all the ethnic resource centers — the Chicano Latino, African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and American Indian resource centers — are located on half a floor.
This is where the HSI recognition comes in.
“If we’re able to become a Hispanic-serving institution, that will be a really good thing,” Zavella said. “Whatever resources we get to work with Latino students will free up resources for other students. It’s one of those win-win situations.”
If a university with HSI recognition wants to implement or improve a program, the U.S. Department of Education provides money and instructions on how to do so.
“Let’s say we decide we really need to work on writing, and we want to write a proposal for a writing program,” Zavella said. “They would have very clear guidelines of what that would look like, how much money they’re willing to allocate and how it will be used. There would be very clear reporting mechanisms that [ensure] UCSC used the funds correctly.”
Zavella is on the team drafting up a proposal for UCSC’s application to become an HSI.
“We’ve had one meeting so far,” she said. “We’re trying to brainstorm what are the issues we need to think about. What are the problems that Latino students face? What are the resources on campus? And where are the weaknesses? Where do we need to identify where we could apply for programs that would help students?”
Currently, UC Merced and UC Riverside are HSIs.
Whittingham credits many factors for the increased Latino applicants. Not only did more students identify their ethnicity on the application, but UCSC reached out to more students.
UCSC is trying to recruit more non-California residents for fiscal purposes, Whittingham said. Increasing the number of non-residents would raise UCSC’s income. Due to California’s budget crisis and education cuts, the state can only pay for 11,000 UCSC students.
“Our primary mission is serving the state of California,” Whittingham said. “But being a top-tier, world-renowned university, we definitely want to offer learning opportunities for students not only from California but well beyond.”
Non-California residents are not displacing California residents, because the school has the physical capacity for more students, she said.
The admissions office used new methods to further inform prospective students both in and out of state.
These included “College Week Live,” a virtual college fair to let interested students talk to UCSC faculty online.
Many UCSC students also went back to their high schools to promote the university.
“We’ve reached a lot more people that we weren’t able to reach before,” Whittingham said.