On November 23, 2019, students, staff, and alumni gathered for a town hall to discuss the future of the Latina/o Studies Program. The main focus of the discussion was the creation of a Latina/o Studies major, which has been discussed and debated at Cornell for several years.
LSSO intern Tomás Reuning led the discussion by first reviewing responses from a recent survey sent out regarding interest in the creation of the major. The survey showed that respondents have a strong interest in learning about their culture and having a diverse faculty. They also expressed interest in learning about marginalized groups within the Latinx community.
Program director Debra Castillo spoke about national academic trends within Latinx Studies and related fields. She spoke about the consolidation of programs at various universities to create a more transnational curriculum, such as the convergence of Puerto Rican and Chicanx Studies programs into Latinx Studies programs. She looked at programs of other elite institutions such as UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern University to describe how our major requirements could look. Region-specific concentrations like the Border Studies track at Arizona State University and the Latinxs in the Midwest focus at Minnesota State University were also brought out.
Audience members at the town hall voiced their concerns regarding the status of the minor. Concerns about creating a strong Latina/o Studies major that could stand alone and not just be a double major were discussed. Members also conversed about changing the program name to Latinx or Latine Studies to be more inclusive.
The major would require two to three years to become a reality. Currently, there are eight Latina/o Studies faculty, with five tenure-track professors, one post-doctoral fellow, and two adjunct professors. Students were advised to strengthen the minor by taking LSP classes to demonstrate the minor’s importance and relevance within the university.