Students will host a “Latinx Town Hall” Monday at 7 p.m. in the Graduate Student Association lounge at the MultiCultural Center to create a safe space for the Latino/a community.
The town hall is a closed event open only to those who “identify with the Latinx community,” according to the Facebook event page, so that students feel comfortable discussing issues such as policing, safety and accessing resources. UCSB was named by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities in January as a Hispanic Serving Institute (HSI) after reaching 25 percent Hispanic enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs.
Associated Students (A.S.) Student Advocate General and fourth-year global studies and art double major Joseline Garcia, who is organizing the event along with Lorena Alvarez and Cassie Rubio, said the town hall will provide a space for students to voice their struggles and find ways to address them.
“The purpose of the town hall is to create a space where individuals who identify with the Latinx community can discuss issues that are pertinent to them,” Garcia said in an email. “Those issues can range from constant racial profiling, insufficient resources, displacement of Latinx families in I.V., etc.”
Garcia said UCSB being an HSI does not necessarily mean Latino/a students are sufficiently represented on campus.
“The number doesn’t show the retention percentage of the Latinx that are able to graduate,” Garcia said in an email. “It’s very rare to see a Latinx professor and graduate students on campus. This alone is one of the many reasons the town hall is essential. It is important to spark common conversation pertaining to how we want to be represented as a student body on campus.”
Garcia said Latino/a students face discrimination that surfaces in many ways which are not “isolated” from one another.
“It is important that all individuals understand that the terror faced by the 43 students in Ayotzinapa about a year ago, the racist remarks made by presidential candidates, the criminalization of brown bodies, inaccessibility of higher education to undocumented students, the cultural appropriation of Latinx culture in Halloween … are all interconnected,” Garcia said in an email.
First-year Chican@ studies major Mara Tinajero said safe spaces allow students to connect with their community.
“Classes like Chicano studies, spaces like El Congreso and spaces for people of color is something our campus needs to pay more attention to and possibly get more funding [for],” Tinajero said. “Those spaces are crucial because our students go to those and feel at home.”
Tinajero said she thinks Latino/a students are represented better at UCSB than on most campuses, but there is still progress to be made.
“I definitely feel that we have more representation on our campus than others because we are a Hispanic-serving institute,” Tinajero said. “I feel like our voices are heard louder than others, but I feel like it’s not enough. I feel like our voices need to be heard even more.”
Tinajero said her experience attending this year’s Students of Color Conference at UC Berkeley allowed her to connect and draw strength from others in her community.
“It was really comforting to see that some of the struggles I’ve been through, I haven’t been through them alone,” Tinajero said. “Seeing how people took those experiences and push through and triumphed helps.”