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Member Advisory--February 16, 2005

 

HACU praises the introduction of technology bill

 

Senator George Allen of Virginia introduced the Minority-Serving Institution Digital & Wireless Network Technology Opportunity Act of 2005 on Thursday, February 17, 2005, to the 109th Congress.

 

HACU calls for swift passage of the bill that would provide grants for new technology equipment and infrastructure expansion, as well as new faculty development, classroom technology, training, technology partnership and technology education leadership development opportunities for eligible HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions.

 

“The rapidly changing global economy and national security priorities require the elimination of the ‘digital divide’ in our country, particularly on college campuses,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores.

 

While all sectors of society are acquiring greater access to information technology and connectivity to the Internet, the gap between the better educated and those behind them is widening each year.  The U.S. Department of Commerce series of reports, “Falling Through the Net,” and “A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet,” documents the divide between Hispanics and whites and Hispanics and the nation as a whole.  The 2000 report, the last reporting on households, notes that more than one half of U.S. households have computers and more than four of every ten have Internet access.  For Hispanic households, the numbers are only one-third and about two of every ten, respectively.

 

This same report documents that in 2000 Hispanics made almost 27% less individual use of the Internet than non-Hispanic whites. In the latest 2001 report the gap grew to over 28%. In short, Hispanics are slowly increasing computer and Internet access, but the digital divide between them and the rest of the nation’s population is getting wider rather than narrow.

 

Because of this persisting gap in access to technology, Flores said, “Senator Allen’s bill is critical to provide federal assistance to HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions, so that they may be able to strengthen their information-technology infrastructure and institutional capacity and prepare an increasingly diverse workforce for the technology demands of the present and future.”

 

Senator Allen had introduced a similar measure in the 108th Congress which passed the Senate 97-0, but stalled in the House.

 

HACU’s Capitol Forum, April 3-5, 2005, at the Madison Hotel in Washington, DC, will provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about this bill and to voice your support to your congressional representatives in person.  Please make your presence felt as HACU member institutions gather to press for this and other legislation impacting Hispanic higher education, including the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, at this important Forum.  For more information, visit www.hacu.net.

 

HACU Member Advisories are a service of the 
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.