Why Should I Self Identify? – Gerald Nevarez
On more than one occasion during their employment with NMSU, faculty and staff are asked to self identify. This process relates to self-identification in relation to race/ethnicity, gender and veteran status. Sometimes this gives rise to the question “Why should I self identify?” The root of the request lies with federal executive orders and statutes. More specifically, Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act. Taken together, these laws prohibit discrimination with regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. The laws require federal contractors and recipients of federal assistance to take affirmative action to ensure that all individuals have an equal opportunity for employment. Basically, this is a compliance issue for federal contractors and recipients of federal assistance. NMSU falls under such provisions which are enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
Let’s look at this question in another light. When you walk around the NMSU campus you encounter students who are pursuing educational endeavors. Many of these students are receiving federal assistance to pay for their education. Additionally, if we look around at our colleagues, many of them are working on projects and conducting research that is funded by federal agencies. Given the level of federal financial assistance and contracts, NMSU has an obligation to comply and this begins with self-identification.
If NMSU failed to comply with non-discrimination or affirmative action provisions it would be found in violation of the contract. A finding of a violation could result in contracts being canceled, suspended or even have NMSU declared ineligible for future federal contracts and assistance.
The OFCCP conducts periodic audits/reviews of contractors. In April 2011, this agency initiated an extensive audit of NMSU. In October 2012, the university was notified by OFCCP that no violations were found. This notification is significant because it demonstrates that we are all doing our part in complying with the federal provisions. On the flip side, failure to comply would mean that students might miss out on federal assistance to pursue their educational goals. Failure to comply would also mean that our colleagues could not pursue federal contracts to conduct research. So why should I self identify? Because it benefits the entire NMSU community.