MAGIC VALLEY — After 25.7% of their students identified as Hispanic, the College of Southern Idaho has achieved the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status. The college is the first in Idaho to do so.
“The whole point of being a Hispanic serving institution is to, first of all, acknowledge that institution has this body of students to serve. But also then to look at different resource opportunities available to say okay as an institution now that you’ve crossed this threshold what could you be doing to better serve that population," said Chris Bragg, dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Communication at CSI.
In order to achieve this status, colleges must have more than 25% of their students identify as Hispanic. Another requirement is some of their students, Hispanic or not, must have economic needs that are not met.
“We’re proud of the fact that we are the first Hispanic serving institution in the state and we are going to make sure that we treat that with the respect that it deserves and that we use that as an opportunity to meet the needs of the students in our area," Bragg said.
Achieving the status also means the college can apply for specific HSI federal grants that they will use to create more resources to better serve their Hispanic students.
“There may be a little lag in terms of specific programs that come about as a result of HSI status. But there are a lot of institutions around the country that will tell you that becoming an HSI and having access to those grant monies made a significant difference in their ability to not only help Hispanic students in their area but students throughout the geographical area where the college is located,” Bragg said.
CSI has been working with different Hispanic serving organizations, like the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to help create more resources and knock down any barriers these students may face.
“So for example culturally, making sure our faculty, our staff, that we are not culturally establishing any sort of barriers. We’re not causing problems that perhaps that we are unaware of, that we are not realizing. We’re certainly not doing it intentionally, but unintentionally," Bragg said.
The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs says they hope to work with CSI to create more diversity within faculty and staff.
“Our goal would be to work with the president and his administration to increase their staff, the educators, and the professors on campus. I’m hopeful that they will not only attract more students but faculty of color,” Margie Gonzalez, Executive Director of The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, said.