Students gathered last night to commemorate the takeover of Day Hall in November of 1993, an event which lead to the establishment of the Latino Living Center (LLC) and the Latino Studies Program (LSP).
The vigil, an annual tradition, was held by candle light outside Day Hall with approximately 50 students present. The ceremony dates back to the takeover when every night students gathered in support of those assembled inside.
“It’s very important to me to be out here to remember not only where we come from as far as the LLC, but where it all started up to where it is today,” said Victoria Lopez, residence hall director for the Latino Living Center.
Participants in last night’s vigil began in silent procession from the original site of the LLC at the Class of 1922 Hall. From there they processed to the Arts Quad to the site of the artwork defaced with anti-Latino slurs which lead to the ’93 protests.
Students then paused in front of Day Hall to share their feelings about the events that transpired November 19, 1993, when students sat inside awaiting a University response to their demands.
“It happened very recently,” said Ben Ortiz, residence hall director for Dickson Hall. “It’s not like this is ancient history, it’s a little easier to imagine since it happened in our lifetime. It’s important to keep reflecting upon that, so we don’t forget about it.”
Students held the demonstration as a reminder of the issues first addressed by the protesters.
“I do it every year because I think it’s important for people to come out to support it,” Maria Morales ’03 said. “Like some of the students said, it’s important to keep the memory alive and it’s for upperclassmen to show the freshmen and the sophomores that there still is support for it; that people still remember it, and it’s important to continue.”
About a quarter of those participating were freshmen, many of whom did not have experience with the Day Hall takeover and its repercussions.
“For me, over the past week I’ve learned everything that’s been going on. I had no idea about Day Hall week,” Angie Zavala ’05 said.
Despite considerable gains for the Latino community since the takeover, students feel the need to continue to fight for issues they feel have not been met, issues first raised in ’93.
“Certainly the number of [Latino] faculty is just an embarrassment,” said Anthony Garcia ’04, president of La Asociacion Latina. “There’s been a change but it has been slow; certainly not the type of progress other areas of campus have enjoyed.”
Students learned to appreciate the impact the takeover had in the establishment of the LLC and what the center has done to change the experiences for many Latino students on campus.
“When I chose to live in the LLC I didn’t put much thought into it,” Christian Cerna ’05 said. “Living there has taught me that it’s so much more, it’s not just about seeing people that you look like.”
For some students, the center played a much more central role in their Cornell experience.
“I wouldn’t have come to Cornell had I not lived there,” said Morales, who believes the center provides an “easy transition” for students who would otherwise be intimidated by other dorms.
“The message is definitely still alive today as far as getting the Latino issues out there on campus. This event makes sure that the administration recognizes that there are Latino students on campus, and they do have issues that do need to be addressed,” Lopez said.
Archived article by Leonor Guariguata