Salvador Dali, Selena, Tito Puentes and Luis Miguel are all famous Hispanics, but they are not the only people who should be celebrated during National Hispanic Heritage Month. There are millions of Hispanics in America who make up approximately 35 percent of the U.S. population.

By Gus Bode

If this is so, why are they so underrepresented on campus?

This year, there was a nice amount of attention given to events held on campus, and this was well deserved. From the welcoming picnic to Festival Latino, the Hispanic Student Council and the Hispanic sororities and fraternities on campus all worked together to make this year not only a celebration, but also an opportunity to inform others of their heritage and dispel stereotypes about Hispanics.

To that the Daily Egyptian says, “Good job.” There are many areas of Hispanic culture that people do not know about, and through their hard work, many of those issues were addressed throughout the weeks.


But while the students are working hard on campus to make sure they are not left out, what is the University doing to make sure they are represented throughout the year?

In Illinois, the total population of Hispanics is more than 1.5 million, with 978,000 of those being age 18 or older and who could be higher education seekers. With those numbers, SIU should have had a higher number of Hispanic students who enrolled over the past few years.

In 2000, the total number of Hispanic students enrolled was 583, out of a total population of 22,552 students, and in 2001 the numbers dropped to 573. That is not a significant drop, but out of the total state population, it is shameful.

Before the focus of retention can be addressed with the Hispanic population, recruitment techniques and enrollment need to be adjusted to get more students to come to the University in the first place.

Giving the same repetitive speech to high school students about the campus and its several colleges cannot do this. There need to be specific programs for Hispanic students that will make them want to come to the campus because of what they can get involved in or special programs available to them.

Offering a Hispanic Heritage course on campus could be a start to showing the students that the University cares. But how long will it take, given the time it took to add a women’s history course to the catalog.

One of the concerns of Hispanic students, voiced during a recent panel discussion, is the lack of services offered to them. This is something that should be given attention, especially since the international students, African-American and other racial groups have been given certain formats for not only education but also entertainment on campus as well.


Another area that warrants attention is in Graduate School recruitment and retention. Only 71 students of the University’s 4,157 graduate students are of Hispanic ethnicity. More than anyone else, they feel the exclusion on campus and want to see more Hispanic students perusing their education at SIU.

National Hispanic Month ends Oct. 15, so there is still time to participate in upcoming activities if you have not already. Students, faculty and staff should get out and mingle with the students who make up a growing population and maybe they will learn a little more about their culture and ways to increase their numbers on campus.