November 29, 2007
Written by C.N.
One of the recurring themes within Asian American Studies and from Asian American scholars is the notion that, perhaps ironically, in order to truly understand the entire Asian American category, one must first recognize and understand each of the unique ethnic groups that are included within that larger category. As an example of this, Diverse Education reports that the University of California system is expanding the selection of Asian ethnic groups that students can choose in order to better identify the characteristics of each group:
The University of California is expanding the categories undergraduate applicants use to self-report their ethnicity as part of an effort to collect and better report the “complexities” of its Asian American and Pacific Islander students. It will become the first public institution of higher education in California to collect and report data specifically on Hmong, Filipino and other Asian subgroups.
“The data UC collects are a reflection of how well we are serving the diverse people of California,” said Dr. Judy Sakaki, UC’s vice president for student affairs. “My goal is for improved data reporting to spur greater accountability regarding overlooked populations in our student body.” Next year’s undergraduate application will include 23 Asian American and Pacific Islander categories, up from the eight that are currently recorded.
The “Count Me In” campaign, a student-led crusade to get the University of California system and the state to disaggregate data so that the needs and challenges of the various Asian subgroups aren’t overlooked, played a role in UC’s decision as did calls from UC faculty for richer research data and state legislative interest.
Through aggregated data, Asians are often portrayed as academically, socially and economically successful. But in a report released last summer, the federal Government Accountability Office warned that the “Asian” umbrella masks the underperformance of some Asian subgroups, like Vietnamese and Native Hawaiians.
As UC noted in its announcement Friday, a closer look at the Hmong community in California shows that 66 percent have less than a high school degree, compared to 23 percent of all California adults.
This is definitely a positive step in the right direction and I applaud the University of California system for implementing this change, and everyone associated with the “Count Me In” campaign for working to make this important change a reality.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Expanding Racial Categories in Admissions" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/11/expanding-racial-categories-in-admissions/> ().
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