You may be wondering why, upon login, SSOL displays bright red text asking you to “complete the Ethnicity and Race resurvey.” The university announced today that it will be collecting ethnicity and race data again to comply with new Department of Education guidelines for these categories. Respondents will be asked to answer whether they are Hispanic or non-Hispanic, before selecting one or more of five categories: American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White.

Beginning tomorrow, students will be invited via email (which may or may not already be in your inbox) to participate in the new survey, and faculty will be resurveyed starting in March. Those who do not participate will have their old responses (taken from admissions applications) adjusted to the new categories over the summer. All the better to non-discriminate!

UPDATE: Sample email after the jump. 


Dear Student:

Columbia, like all educational institutions, is required to collect ethnicity and race data from its students and, in turn, to report such data to the U.S. Department of Education through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education made changes to how educational institutions, including Columbia, must collect that data and then report it to the Department.  The federal government now requires educational institutions to collect the data using a two-part question:

—      First, the student is asked whether he/she is Hispanic/Latino.

—      Second, the student is asked to identify his/her race(s) by selecting one or more of five racial categories.  These five categories are: American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White.

Columbia has ethnicity and race data on file for most students as a result of a previous invitation to self-identify on the admissions application.  However, because the Department of Education is encouraging educational institutions to allow students the opportunity to re-identify their ethnicity and race under the new standards, Columbia is now inviting its students to participate in a re-survey.

Please note that refusal to provide the requested information will not subject any student to adverse treatment.  The information will be kept confidential and will be used only in accordance with applicable laws, executive orders, and government regulations.

To complete the survey, please log in to SSOL using the following link:[1]_tran_name=ssuv. The survey will also be available via a regular homepage link in SSOL.

If you have any questions about this survey, or if you have difficulty accessing it, please email If you would like to review the Department of Education’s Final Guidance, it can be found at  A set of questions and answers published by the government on the new format can be found at

We request that you respond to the survey by November 30, 2009.  Thank you for your participation.