Q – Why do we track ethnicity, race, veteran, and disability information?

A – Race and ethnicity are indicators of complex social processes that stratify individuals and provide differential access to opportunities and resources (American Sociological Association).  Veterans may also face challenges re-entering civilian life after they complete their military service and individuals with disabilities are employed at rates well under their availability.  Collecting data about ethnicity, race, veteran status, and disability enables OSU and the federal government to track demographic changes, evaluate equity between groups, monitor progress in rectifying inequities, and meet civil rights commitments and obligations. 


Q – How does the federal government define “race”?

A – The U.S. Government considers race to be a group of socially-defined categories which are not based on any scientific, biological, or genetic criteria.


QHave race categories changed before?

A—Race categories used by the federal government and U.S. society have changed a number of times to reflect changing social attitudes.  For example, a person who was included in the Asian category (from the Indian sub-continent) in 1980 and 1990 might have been listed as Hindu in 1920-1940, Other race in 1950-1960, and White in 1970 (U.S. Census).


QHow does the federal government define “ethnicity”?

A—The U.S. Government considers ethnicity to be the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of a person or a person 's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the U.S. (U.S. Census).


QWhy does the ethnicity question only ask about Hispanic/Latino ethnicity? 

A—One of the oldest identity groups in the United States, Hispanic/Latino ethnicity has been tracked by the U.S. Government over the last 40+ years.  This continues to be the only ethnicity explicitly tracked, and is now one of our most rapidly changing demographics.  Defined as “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race,” people who identify as Hispanic/Latino were unable to designate a race prior to this change, since ethnicity and race were grouped together.   


QWhy are “Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders” now a separate group? 

A—This group is defined as “people having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.”  The previous practice grouped all Asians and all Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders—comprising many different groups with different political, socio-economic, educational, and health concerns—into a single racial category.  This practice misrepresented the civil rights, educational, and socio-economic circumstances of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, because their particular information was lost in the larger aggregate.


Q—What has been added to the definition of “American Indian or Alaska Native?”

A—The definition for this group has been changed to clarify that it includes the original peoples of Central and South America.


Q—Why does the system allow people to select more than one race?

 A—Over the last three decades, the number of multi-racial families with children has more than quadrupled in the U.S. census.    The old requirement—to select only one race—in effect required individuals to deny the rest of their heritage.  The new system allows each individual to select all races that apply (from among the available options).


Q—Why is the category “Vietnam-era Veteran” no longer available?

A—The Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Act (VEVRA) included a provision to “sunset” or discontinue the category of “Vietnam-era veteran.”  When the VEVRA was originally enacted, Vietnam vets faced difficult circumstances including stereotyping and other forms of discrimination.  Now, 34 years after the US final departure from Saigon, the Vietnam War is understood differently and military service in Vietnam is no longer stigmatized.   As a consequence of this change, however, some veterans who performed non-combat service during the Vietnam era and once were considered Vietnam-era veterans are not included in the revised veteran categories.


QWhat is the category, “Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran?”

A—In 2002, the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA)confirmed the change to discontinue the separate Vietnam-era vet status, but added a new category—Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran—that would include many vets who had previously been identified as “Vietnam-era.”    This category is defined as “any veteran who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a United States military operation for which a service medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order 12985.”


Q—Why do recent veterans need to indicate a separation date?

A—Since the Persian Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been a large upswing in the availability of recently-separated veterans entering (or re-entering) the workforce.  Veterans are now asked to indicate their separation date if they have separated from active duty within the last three years; this allows the federal government (and OSU) to determine whether their re-entry into the workforce is occurring at the rate we would expect given their availability.


Q—Who do I contact for more information?

A—You may contact:

Kerry McQuillin

Affirmative Action Manager                                                      

OSU Office of Equal Opportunity and Access            OR            OSU Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

Kerry.McQuillin@oregonstate.edu                                               Affirmative.Action@oregonstate.edu

541-737-4381                                                                                    541-737-3556