An administrative graphic that divided students into two groups, “students of colour, excluding Asians,” and “white or Asian students,” has sparked a backlash.
The data on the diversity of the incoming class was presented to the student body senate by university president Darryll Pines, who used the graphic. In a statement, the school said it was aiming to highlight students who have been underrepresented at the university. An entire five-year period of data was shown on the slide, including the number of applicants to UMD, their average SAT scores and GPAs.
However, the racial makeup of first-year students is a point of contention for some and a larger audience on Twitter.
NBC Asian America received a statement from the university saying that the numbers listed under the “students of colour, minus Asians” category were meant to represent students with the lowest history of presence at the school, and it included some Pacific Islanders.
Black/African American students, American Indians or Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander students, and Hispanic students are all included in this section of data, according to a statement from the university.
This image, according to students, perpetuates the myth that Asians are innately successful and close to whiteness. Asian American and Pacific Islander groups tell the Diamondback that it also erases the distinctions between groups within the umbrella, many of which are typically lower-income and underserved.
Students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) say they’re being used “when they want to be diverse and then not when they don’t want to,” says Anish Kakarla, president of the South Asian Student Association.
The university clarified that it includes Asian students when describing students of colour in data or otherwise, as the debate continues online.
According to the university, “When we refer to students of colour, we include Asian students and Asian Americans.”