After the Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI, initiative was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, UC Berkeley is continuing its efforts to increase diversity.
In a campuswide email sent Wednesday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ released a draft report providing details on the campus HSI Task Force. Dedicated to achieving an HSI distinction for UC Berkeley from the U.S. Department of Education by 2027, the task force started its work in 2019 and established three groups within the task force that would oversee the different aspects of receiving an HSI designation.
In fall 2020, about 22% of undergraduate students admitted into UC Berkeley identified as Chicanx or Latinx, a 47% increase from 2019, according to the UC system’s undergraduate admissions summary. However, in order to be deemed an HSI, the institution must have at least 25% of its enrolled undergraduates identify as Chicanx or Latinx. The school must also be deemed a preferred destination for Pell Grant eligible students in order to comply.
“While the numbers are an important metric and certainly there is much work to be done to attract, recruit, and admit many more students from underrepresented communities and marginalized backgrounds, the Task Force realized that in order to create an environment where Chicanx/Latinx students can thrive, there must be much greater focus on campus climate,” Christ said in the email.
The task force will head campus efforts in establishing achievable goals on its way to becoming an HSI, including overseeing the application process, conducting engagement, socialization and communication plans and providing recommendations to increase campus inclusivity and create a welcoming place for underrepresented students, according to the draft report.
Oscar Dubón, Jr., UC Berkeley vice chancellor of equity and inclusion, said campus aims to ensure an environment that is accessible to all students through diversity, equity and inclusion improvements. Dubón added that in order to attain this goal, the task force will need to work with campus initiatives, such as the African American Initiative, the undergraduate and graduate diversity initiatives and the chancellor’s Independent Advisory Board on Police Accountability and Community Safety.
“The work we do together will shift our benchmark from merely serving students to creating a Latinx-thriving campus,” Dubón said in an email. “We must be unapologetic about becoming a Latinx-thriving campus and do so by transforming structures, support, and an environment that will result in a campus where everyone can thrive.”
According to the draft report, the task force draft that was released intends to engage the campus community in creating a school that both aligns with HSI regulations and recognizes the importance of the Latinx community.
Additionally, the draft report noted campus’s history with racialized ethnic movements, also noting that UC Berkeley seeks to acknowledge its mission of providing education, research and public service to all communities.
“The HSI Task Force Report has been presented to and enthusiastically received by campus leadership, including the chancellor’s cabinet, and leaders understand that it is incumbent on all of us to bring the goals to fruition, not just for our Latinx students, but for all of our students,” Dubón said in the email.