Elmhurst College may soon become a Hispanic-Serving Institute (HSI).
In an effort to help promote and facilitate higher education for Hispanic students, H.A.B.L.A.M.O.S, the Latino student organization on campus, is pushing for the college to become a HSI.
For H.A.B.L.A.M.O.S member Aylin Cruz Aviles, an HSI title is important because she believes it would help prevent the legal and financial factors that hinder Hispanic students from accessing and completing college.
“A lot of people end up dropping out because they can’t afford to keep on going, and there’s also no guarantee for people's safety,” said Cruz-Aviles. “I think if EC took that one step of becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institute, it would be a huge stride forward for colleges—it shows that they stand by Hispanic students.”
According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) website, in order to be eligible for the HSI title, a college/university must be a “not-for-profit institution of higher learning with a full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic.”
At EC, 27.7 percent of the fall 2018 freshman class are Hispanic according to enrollment numbers, and the amount of Hispanic students at EC has been steadily increasing each year since 2014 at 20.7 percent.
If EC takes the necessary steps such as recruiting more Hispanic students to become a HSI, Cruz-Aviles believes higher education will be promoted in Hispanic/Latino communities as well as bridge divides through diversity.
“Regardless of what anyone says, there’s this huge racial tension in the country—it’s gone farther than just black and white people,” said Cruz-Aviles. “People are looking down on any person of color. If more colleges started paying attention to becoming diverse, education could bridge the divide.”
Eligibility for this title qualifies EC to receive grants under the Title V of the Higher Education Act.
“There is funding that will be given just for the college to better itself, and additional funds are given to the college specifically for Latino students—it’s something that would benefit everyone,” explained Cruz-Aviles.
Currently, there are 307 institutions, 11 of which are in Illinois, that have the HSI title, as stated by the HACU website.
Colleges including Dominican University, St. Augustine College, and the University of Illinois at Chicago are some the few institutions that have been awarded this status.