The Not-So-Simple Question of Ethnicity

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One of the more interesting trends at UT has nothing to do with what people are wearing, saying or watching. It actually has everything to do with what they’re writing. Applicants to UT and across the country are choosing not to denote their race on applications.

In the application for the University of Tampa there is a section called “Race and Ethnicity” where applicants must check the category that best describes them. Categories include White (non-Hispanic), Hispanic/Latino, African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian, East Indian, Native Hawaiian and Other.

The choices would seem diverse enough; however, many applicants feel that none of the categories “best describe” them. Rather than simply choosing white, they do not indicate their race at all.

In the past 10 years, the percentage of students not indicating race on applications has nearly doubled. A national study in 1995 revealed that 7.8 percent of undergraduate applicants did not indicate their race. However, by 2005, the percentage of undergraduates not indicating race on applications had risen to 15.4 percent. The figures at the University of Tampa are strikingly similar. In 1995, of 1,852 applicants, 131 did not indicate a specific race. In 2005, the number grew to 652 out of 4,582 applicants.

The seeming drop in diversity on campus is actually due to an upward shift in the number of students not indicating their race on applications. Director of Admissions Brent Benner describes the choosing of race and ethnicity as “muddy.”

“Most people are of multi ethnicity,” he said. “My mother was 100 percent Norwegian, [and] there is no category for that

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