Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pacific Islander Exclusion from Underrepresented Minority ("URM") Programs

To do their part in addressing the higher education gap, universities, foundations, and the government have set up academic programs specifically for underrepresented minorities (also known as "URM" academic programs as in "underrepresented minority" academic programs.)

While URM academic programs make up a small fraction of the total number of U.S. academic programs, they are an important source of financial aid for underrepresented minorities. While these URM academic programs are making a difference for African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians and Alaska Natives, many of them do not include Pacific Islanders in their definition of "underrepresented," which can be the deciding factor in whether a student can even apply.

Why are Pacific Islanders excluded from some of these programs, when the data clearly shows that they're underrepresented? Perhaps because these programs, while well intentioned, are simply unaware of Pacific Islander underrepresentation. Maybe because the practice of grouping Pacific Islanders with Asians leads people to think that both groups are the same, and produces data saying that "Asian Pacific Islanders" are not underrepresented. Also, it could be due to the fact that so far, Pacific Islanders haven't come together on a national level to speak out against the exclusion of their would-be scholars from programs that should be open to them.

To learn more about the PIA project's plan to do something about this, click here.

To return to the P.I.A. project 101 page, click here.

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