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New survey shows race is not black and white

Students might have noticed an extra piece of mail in their university inboxes last week. The Office of University Registrar is collecting a “Race and Ethnicity Resurvey” of Ohio State students with two short questions asking students to identify themselves based on their race and ethnicity.

While the U.S. Department of Education’s requirement for institutions to maintain and report race and ethnicity isn’t new, the collection categories to report them are. According to the University Registrar, the new survey will allow students to choose more than one box while answering the second question and therefore be able to reflect ethnic and racial composition more accurately, especially if they consider themselves as more than one race.

Linda Katunich, associate registrar, said the average response rate to the resurvey in Summer, Autumn and Winter quarters, respectively, was about 10 percent.

Nancy Wygle, communications coordinator for the Student Consolidated Services Center, said in an e-mail that students were first asked to self-report on the resurvey in Autumn Quarter.

“The request has been sent by e-mail each subsequent quarter to those students who remained enrolled yet have not participated in the resurvey,” Wygle said.

According to the Department of Education’s website, the federal government has changed the way it collects the information because of the increased complexity and changing demographics of the nation.

The 2000 U.S. Census found that 6.8 million people, or 2.4 percent of the total population, identified themselves as being more than one race. Figures from 2010 showed that this number has risen to more than 9 million people, or 2.9 percent of the total population. Hispanic or Latino origin and race percentage increased from 12.5 percent in 2000 to 16.3 percent in 2010, becoming the fastest-growing and largest minority group in the U.S., from 35.5 million to 50.5 million people in 10 years.

Additionally, white population percentage dropped from 75.1 percent to 72.4 percent, Black or African American population increased from 12.3 percent to 12.6 percent, American Indian and Alaska Native, which are one category, stayed the same at .9 percent, Asian population grew from 3.6 percent to 4.8 percent, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander went from .1 percent to .2 percent and the “some other race” category rose from 5.5 percent to 6.2 percent.

Sapan Bhuta, a first-year in economics, said he thinks the resurvey could still be limiting to those who identify outside of the listed categories and that he felt like the university already had his information from prior questioning so he didn’t need to complete the resurvey.

“I had better things to do,” Bhuta said. “I’m pretty sure my race hasn’t changed since last year.”

Students Anthony Monaco and Kyle Hann, first-years in engineering, said they ignored or deleted the resurvey e-mail.

“I figured other people will fill it out so I didn’t need to,” Hann said.

 

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