Compared to SHSU white, black students, Hispanic students don’t feel as much racial tension

Sam Houston State University’s Latino students do not perceive racial tension at the university as much as their peers in other ethnic groups, according to a survey conducted by The Houstonian.

Sixty percent of Latinos said there was no racial tension, compared to 52 percent for whites and 55 percent for blacks. Only 15 percent of Latino students said SHSU has a lot of racial tension. Eighteen percent of white respondents said there was a lot of racial tension and 23 percent of black respondents.

Sophomore psychology major Lesley Laynes, historian chair for the International Hispanic Association on campus, said the reason Latino students don’t feel discrimination overall is because they, as a group, tend to associate with like-minded peers. She also said that they are a very diverse group, so race is something that is usually accepted.

“We definitely do feel discrimination, but the incidents are isolated and few,” Lesley said. “Hispanics in general are a blend of cultures and ethnicities so race is something that is subjective and very rarely an issue.”

Lesley said that Latino students rarely feel racial tension because as a group, race isn’t something they think about.

“You can have a Mexican who [has a light complexion], and then have another Mexican from the same city who [has a darker complexion],” Lesley said. “This example highlights why we don’t feel race as an issue. We don’t feel racial tension because we don’t tend to see race as an issue.”

The survey also showed that Latino students not only didn’t feel as much racial tension, but they also feel less threatened. Four percent of Hispanics have felt insulted or threatened because of their race/ethnicity from a student from a different race/ethnicity. This is compared to 10.6 percent of white students and 18.3 percent of black students.

According to the latest available Census Bureau data, Hispanics or Latinos, which includes Mexican-American, Puerto Rican or Cuban-American, comprise 17 percent of the United States population. This translates to approximately 53 million Hispanic-American citizens as of June 2012. In Texas, Latinos are 38.2 percent of the population.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 14.5 percent of students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in 2011 were Hispanic. Sam Houston has a 17 percent enrollment of Hispanic students.

Staff Reporter Samantha Galindo contributed to this report.

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