1980.04.22: Increased Minority Programs (The Issue, UMass-Boston)

The Issue [UMass-Boston]
April 22, 1980

[By Michael Letwin]

UMB is supposed to serve and educate people who are barred from private colleges because they don’t have the money, family ties and/or prior access lo quality education in basic skills. One of the groups most affected by this bar are those people whose first language is not English.

This group is not limited to foreign students. By 1990, Spanish ­speaking people will make up the largest single minority in the US. Literally tens of millions of people in this country are included in this group. Nevertheless, the university’s efforts toward recruitment from this population, and for providing the necessary programs to keep them here is dismal.

Despite the fact that there are already many Latino ESL as a Second Language students at UMB, the ESL program has only two tenured teaching positions. The courses offered by the Spanish Department are extremely limited in their scope, and the university offers few courses in basic skills (e.g. writing or math) in Spanish, making it necessary for ESL students to learn everything in English at once.

This burden discourages non-English speaking people from attending the university, and for those who do attend, it increases the drop-out rate and makes it even harder to function positively. This is not only extremely discriminatory and harmful to ESL students, but it also deprives the entire university community of the diversity of background, culture and language that can play a role in breaking down racial and ethnic divisions between students at UMB and throughout the community.


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