The spirit of the law

There is the letter of the law then there is the spirit of it” 

This week’s podcast and Garcia & Dwyer’s piece really reiterates the discussion we’ve being having throughout the semester of what diversity means or should really look like for the university. In the podcast Ceja-Williams was asked if she thinks that there are enough HSIs, and I love how she addressed the question. It’s not about quantity but quality. There would never be enough but the first step to getting there is ensuring that the ones that do meet the criteria for HSI are providing the necessary support for their Latinx students. Both the host and Ceja-Williams talk about the “spirit” of the law which I think is more important than the policies itself. Throughout lower and higher education, institutions try to meet the quota or legal requirements of certain demographics for the funding benefits, but the real issue is whether the funds are used in a meaningful way. With laws about diversity and inclusion it’s not only about meeting the designation but how is the designation reflected in the student support system. 

3 thoughts on “The spirit of the law

  1. Matt Brim


    I’m sending the same post to you that I sent to Dennis and Troy:

    A recent issue of the Clarion advised that we all keep an eye on how our campuses are spending CARES Act money. This chart is interesting because we can see that there is targeted HSI money, and in fact HSI money represents a significant chunk of the CARES money that the campuses have actually spent (as opposed to hoarding it). The graphic is fuzzy, but you can see HSI money in the third column from the right. Interesting.

    My question for you is a hypothetical: let’s say a college does a good job of actually supporting Latinx students, but those students make up only 15% of the student body. Should that college be eligible for money that at present is restricted to HSIs? I wonder if there was not the 25% figure attached (as you say, this is the quantity over quality argument) whether colleges could be encouraged to improve services for the Latinx students they actually have?


  2. Lucien Baskin

    Keshia, thank you for this thoughtful post. I am sympathetic to your argument around assessing institutions qualitatively, yet am curious how that would work with federal funding standards? Perhaps this shows a pitfall in having the government define what an HSI is, though the benefit to this in regards to funding is significant.

  3. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    Thanks for this reflection, Keshia. At the moment you mention in the podcast, I found myself realizing that I had never thought critically about the “S” in HSI, and how the foundation of *serving* is (or could be) fundamentally different than the historical H of HBCUs, or the predominant P in PWI. What does it do to have this orientation toward service built into the language? (or what should it do, maybe?)

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