History of Latina/o Studies Program at Cornell University

Establishment of the Latina/o Studies Program

In 1985, a group of Hispanic students, professors and administrators initiated a series of open discussions between the Cornell student community and the Vice Provost for the establishment of an Hispanic Studies Program. These students, faculty and administrators started formulating ideas regarding such a program and began to define the steps necessary to progress towards a new entity.

A primary issue that emerged was the importance of defining the level of the proposed entity among the overlapping categories of a center, a department and a program. A center would have the broadest agenda. It could include a department as a degree-granting component, independent and autonomous, faculty-based research strengthened by visiting scholars from other related ethnic studies departments, and publication and dissemination of research and information on Hispanic Americans, cultural events and support activities.

In the spring  of 1987, a proposal for the establishment of an Hispanic Studies Program was submitted. This proposal was approved by the Provost, the Academic Council of the Board of Trustees and the Faculty Council of Representatives. The Hispanic Studies Program was established beginning July 1, 1987. One month after the establishment of the Hispanic Studies Program, the name changed to Hispanic American Studies Program (HASP) to more clearly reflect the intended mission and vision.

Establishment of the Latino Living Center program house

In the fall of 1993, more than 100 students occupied Day Hall for four days to protest the underrepresentation and underserving of Latinos at Cornell. As a result of the demonstration, the Latino Studies Program (LSP) was expanded and the Latino Living Center (LLC) was created. Full story

Located on West Campus in the Class of '22, the Latino Living Center welcomed its first group of students in August 1994. In August 2000, the Latino Living Center relocated to Anna Comstock Hall on North Campus, where it currently resides.

Program Name Change

In 1995, the Hispanic American Studies Program was transferred into the College of Arts and Sciences. Shortly thereafter, a formal request was submitted to the College of Arts & Sciences to change the name of the Hispanic American Studies Program to Latino Studies Program in order to be inclusive and accurately reflect the program’s mission. The name change was approved on April 26, 1995. On March 26, 2015, the change from Latino Studies Program to Latina/o Studies Program was approved by the College of Arts and Sciences and reported to the Office of the Provost and Board of Trustees.

Establishment of Latinx Student Success Office-LSSO

In February 2005, the Latina/o/x Student Success Office (LSSO) grew out of a student and faculty vision to improve support and access to Cornell’s excellent educational resources for Latina/o students.  The Latina/o Student Success Office (LSSO) is a joint effort of the Latina/o Studies Program (LSP) and the College of Arts & Sciences Admissions and Advising Office. The College of Arts & Sciences is Cornell's largest college, and its Admissions and Advising office serves the greatest number of Latina/o students.

In the fall of 2017, LSSO, formerly Latina/o Student Success Office, changed its name to Latina/o/x Student Success Office in an effort to institutionalize our commitment as an inclusive space. Changing the name to Latinx Student Success Office was considered. However, as the survey conducted by LSP student representatives this fall demonstrated, the term “Latinx” is preferred by many current students, but not all, and does not speak to most alumni. At the same time, “Latina/o” is insufficient to address changing concepts of gender among college students, and can come across as exclusionary to some community members who don’t identify with the mainstream gender binary.

In the spring of 2019, LSSO, formally Latina/o/x Student Success Office, changed its name to Latinx Student Success Office. Inspired by other organizations and student services offices across the nation that have adopted the term, LSSO is choosing to use Latinx as a gender-neutral and non-binary alternative to Latina/o or Latin@. Incorporating Latinx into LSSO’s name was supported by a majority of students and alumni in a recent community survey.

In Fall of 2022, LSSO continued its evolution to become the "Latine Student Success Office". This resulted in a change from "Latinx" to "Latine". "Latine" is also a gender-neutral and non-binary name, which was something that previous survey showed was important to a majority of students and alumni. But what is the difference between "Latinx" and "Latine"? Though individuals can self-identify as they wish, "Latine" is a gender-neutral term created by the LGBTQIA+, gender non-binary, and feminist communities in Spanish speaking countries. It reflects words that exist in Spanish that do not end in -o or -a, such as “estudiante” or "gente", and it can be pronounced in Spanish. For this reason, "Latine" is a term that is both culturally and linguistically responsive to the community that LSSO serves.