Michelle Zhiqing Yang / Sun Staff Photographer

The Latina/o Studies program is located on the 4th floor of Rockefeller Hall.

November 26, 2019

Students and Staff Hold ‘Town Hall’ Meeting To Discuss Creation of New Latina/o Studies Major

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On Saturday afternoon, a group of students and faculty met to discuss the future of the Latina/o Studies Program. A discussion on the creation of a major, which has been decades in the making, was at the forefront of the meeting.

Tomás Reuning ’21 started the discussion with a presentation describing the importance of this prospective major, as well as any concerns that students, alumni and faculty had about it.

“It’s an important part of me, you know, finding my culture and I’m really passionate about it,” said Reuning when discussing the Latina/Latino Studies Program. “I think my transcript should reflect that.”

Some hesitations presented were job prospects, what the requirements of the major would be, the hiring of more Latinx people to be included in the faculty and staff of Latina/Latino Studies Program and wanting a more diverse representation with focusing on Central and South American identities.

The importance of the prospective major also included taking into account the demographics of the United States. “Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the United States,” said Reuning.

Prof. Debra Ann Castillo, latina/o studies, presented the process of creating a major, taking into account academic trends, the current staff, as well as other programs at different schools around the country which have variations of Latinx studies. Some of these programs are at Columbia University, New York University, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, UCLA and Hunter College.

The process of creating a major takes about two to three years due to the creation of a proposal, board meetings and other administrative processes, according to Castillo.

A student during the meeting brought up the concern that of alumni have been proposing the idea for almost a decade but it has yet to come to fruition.

“Well I think one part of it is the critical mass of faculty that we can count on dependably to be able to teach a set of courses that you are going to require,” Castillo said. “We can’t say we’re going to do something if we’re going to frustrate the students by not being able to offer the courses we say are required.”

“What has happened is that the alums and students have put this at the forefront of our agenda,” said Castillo.“This is something that the collective has to think about.”

“We are looking to have Latinx faculty across the entire university in a much broader representation than we have right now,” said Castillo.

According to Castillo, students can help push for the major through increased enrollment in LSP classes, as well as staying committed to attending meetings on the topic. A meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11 with core faculty where the proposal of creating a “rigorous” and “strong” major will be on the agenda. During this process, a subcommittee of students may also be created to help guide faculty.