Last week, I made the trek to the Briscoe Center, located next to the LBJ Presidential Library, in search of a Daily Texan article from the 1970s. I was unsuccessful in my pursuit, but I didn’t leave the center empty-handed. While looking for one article, I came across another, more interesting one that asked students in 1983 what they thought UT would be like 100 years later, in 2083.
The introduction to the piece read, “I would hope that by the year 2000, we no longer have to be concerned about ethnic, economic and cultural diversity on campus. The future student body should represent the full range of society. And access to education should be related to intellectual skill and ability.” Margaret Kidd, the associate director of the International Office at the time, said, “[What]I hope to see happen is more equitable distribution of foreign students.”
Even 41 years later, the main goal expressed by the article is still being pursued. UT is still not nearly as diverse ethnically, culturally or economically as it should be. This lack of diversity is now more apparent than ever, and if students aren’t made more aware of it, the issue will continue to rear its ugly horns.
Almost half of the 40 Acres is populated by white students — 46 percent of the total student body, to be exact. In surveys conducted by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute at hundreds of universities across the nation, a whopping 49 percent of UT-Austin students came from families making $100,000 or more a year, almost twice the median income — $50,740 — for Texas families. Sixty percent of UT Austin students’ families make more than $75,000 a year.
This article, as well as the cold, hard facts of the current makeup of UT’s student body, should serve as a reminder of the work that has to be done. In the 40-plus years since this article was written, many positive changes have been made at UT, but in terms of fulfilling the crystal ball prophecies of UT’s students and employees circa 1983, we are a long way off.
Berkeley is a Plan II and public relations sophomore from Austin.