Race and Ethnicity Gaps at UMass Amherst Understated?

3 min readAug 31, 2019

There is some debate as to whether the racial and ethnic population of UMass Amherst is reflective of the Massachusetts population. Usually, the general response is that someone would show statewide population statistics and argue that though there may be some “small” gaps between non-white groups, UMass Amherst is less white than Massachusetts as a whole, and thus the argument that UMass has a significant diversity problem is declared moot.

However, though certainly in no way does the presentation of statewide data make raising concerns about UMass’ (lack of) diversity “moot”, perhaps a better way to illustrate UMass’ race/ethnicity gaps is to look at the Massachusetts population for 18–24 year olds who would be the most likely age cohort to enroll at UMass Amherst.

While the white population at UMass Amherst is at 71%, Massachusetts-wide the proportion increases to 74% (+3%). Yet, when compared with 18–24 year olds, the white population falls to 67% (-4%) which suggests that there does exist a notable surplus of white students. So, arguing that the campus is less white then Massachusetts is claimed on questionable grounds.

For the Hispanic/Latinx population things get a little complicated. While there exists a clear two percent gap between UMass Amherst and Massachusetts, at first glance of the graph it appears that the Hispanic/Latinx may be overrepresented when compared to 18–24 year olds. However, this is because for whatever reasons some of the Hispanic/Latinx population is found in the Other and Two or More category. If that segment of the population was included in the Hispanic/Latinx 18–24 year olds category, likely the actual percentage would be somewhere between 10–12%. This leads to a much more serious gap upwards of 4%, double than when simply compared to the general Massachusetts population.

Like Hispanic/Latinx students, Black/African American students face a two percent gap. Relative to 18–24 year olds the gap doubles to four percent. This means that UMass Amherst has proportionally almost half of Black/African American students reflective to the people in Massachusetts with a similar age.

Furthermore, Asian students are subject to some degree of overrepresentation when compared to both Massachusetts and…


Writing about the World