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UMD LATINX STUDENTS GET A CULTURAL ROOM, SET SIGHTS ON CULTURAL CENTER

Written by and photo courtesy of Kimberly Escobar, The Diamondback

Latinx University of Maryland students formerly had no specific place to call their own on the campus.

But now, the university has set aside a small room for them in the basement of Tawes Hall, and Latinx students are pushing for a full cultural center.

The university gave the room to the U.S. Latina/o Studies Program after its members requested a room that would help Latinx students feel more at home.

"The department became aware of a petition that students created about having a Latinx cultural center on campus," said Nancy Mirabal, an American studies professor and director of the U.S. Latina/o Studies Program. "After the [Latina/o studies] and American studies departments moved to Tawes, we wanted to help the students out, and we were granted a room that is specifically for them."

While this room is a start, senior Astrid Diaz said, Latinx students would eventually like to have an on-campus space similar to the Nyumburu Cultural Center.

"We envisioned having a center like Nyumburu on campus where there is space for people to have events, study areas and some kind of library that has books on our culture," the American studies and anthropology major said.

Fidel Martinez, co-founder of the student group El Sol, said there is no reason not to have a Latinx cultural center on the campus, especially because other Big Ten schools, including Indiana University, have their own centers for Latinx culture. El Sol is putting together a proposal to create a center.

"While doing our research, we were comparing the retention rates from other Big Ten schools that have Latinx cultural centers and found that these centers help the retention and admission rates of Latinos on campus," the senior broadcast journalism major said.

This university is not the only campus fighting for a Latinx cultural center, said Erica Puentes, president of Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society and a junior African-American studies major. Students at Duke University and Georgetown University are also pushing for similar centers.

Read more here.

Date of Publication: 
3/6/16