UCLA'S ASIAN PACIFIC ISLANDER AMERICAN NEWSMAGAZINE

Ethnicity should be counted (excerpt)

In Monologue/Dialogue on May 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Negar Tehrani’s opinion piece in this past Wednesday’s Daily Bruin addressed a question I’ve wondered about too.  Why don’t applications provide a box to check for “Middle Eastern”?  Currently Middle Eastern Americans check off  “other” or white” for lack of better alternative.

At UCLA, the Iranian American, Arabic American, and Israeli American student organizations are pushing for a checkbox that more accurately reflects their ethnicity.

Tehrani writes:

UCLA is located in a city where the population consists of many Arabs, Israelis, Iranians and other people of Middle Eastern descent. To not have a count of these students makes UCLA appear inconsiderate and backwards in terms of cultural maturity.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, “There is no count of Middle Easterners at UCLA. Student groups estimate that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Persians and Arabs among the more than 40,000 students on campus.”

Furthermore, the fact that Middle Easterners are not included in campus census counts holds negative implications beyond ethnic negligence. Not having a count of Middle Eastern students not only means limited research on this ethnic group, but also that they are not considered a minority. In fact, it’s as if they are not considered at all.

In other words, if a student of Middle Eastern descent labels himself or herself as “white,” there is a strong possibility that admissions may not apply the same consideration it does when selecting students of various backgrounds based on social and economic needs.

Do you agree with Tehrani?  Are there other ethnicities that should be included or disaggregated on application forms?  Let us know what you think!

— posted by Debbie Chong

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