Feds Require BU to Gather Race, Ethnicity Data
Information, previously collected, part of new reporting format
BU has a homework assignment from Uncle Sam: report the race and ethnicity of all faculty, staff, and students. People are being asked to provide the information via a University survey by next Wednesday, September 8.
As homework goes, this is a do-over. The government has collected the information before, but in a format that allowed people to select one race to describe themselves. That information is no longer sufficient for describing the BU community under new reporting standards, according to the University’s Office of Institutional Research (OIR). Now, race and ethnicity must be reported as parts of a two-part question.
The first question asks respondents if they are Hispanic or Latino. The second asks them to categorize themselves as one or more of the following groups: African American; Native American or Alaskan Native; Asian; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; or White.
The federal Office of Management and Budget has mandated the new reporting standards, which will make race and ethnicity reporting uniform, both between all American universities and between universities and other data sets, such as the U.S. Census. According to the OIR, the Census Bureau has used the Hispanic/Latino question for almost 10 years.
Among other uses, the racial and ethnic information helps the feds allocate government money, said a recent email to the BU community from University President Robert A. Brown: “Last year, the University received over $547 million in federal funds (in the form of research grants, student financial aid, and federal student work-study contributions). For these reasons, it is very important that the University adhere to these guidelines in order to continue to be eligible to receive federal funding for student financial aid and research grants.”
The information is reported in aggregate, leaving individuals’ information confidential. This is a one-time survey, says OIR; only new students and employees will be given the survey in the future.
And perhaps best of all, the survey takes only moments to complete.
Rich Barlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments