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UISG votes in support of Latino Studies Minor

BY MEGAN DEPPE | FEBRUARY 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa students interested in the much-discussed Latino Studies minor might not have to wait much longer.

Support for the minor has been expressed by several different student groups, and a proposal will be put before UI President Sally Mason and UI College of Liberals Arts and Sciences Dean Chaden Djalali once a final proposal is drafted.

The UI Student Government voted Tuesday night to pledge its support to the Latino Studies minor after listening to graduate teaching assistant Stacey Alex, who has been working with professors on the minor proposal.

Three student groups — the UISG, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students — now back the Latino Studies minor proposal.

“I think that there is a piece missing from our curriculum here at the university, and that is the cultural piece,” Alex said. “Our demographics are changing, and we need to be prepared.”

The proposal for a Latino Studies minor was first discussed at a Graduate Student Senate meeting earlier this year. The argument made by supporters was the UI is the only school in the Big Ten without a Latino Studies program or similar curriculum, and there are many classes being taught that would qualify for a Latino Studies minor.

The proposal asked that the Latino Studies minor be available to students by the fall, because there are programs that already qualify.

Alex highlighted the differences between a Latino Studies minor and the current Latin American Studies minor. She said that the Latin American Studies minor focuses on South American and Central American, while the Latino Studies minor would focus on people of a Latino heritage living in the United States.

Alex also responded to comments that Latino students may not want to pursue Latino studies.

“I want to make it clear that a Latino Studies program is for all students,” Alex said. “If Latino students are interested in advocating for their culture, that’s wonderful, and there are lots of them that do, but this is also about educating people who have no roots to any sort of Latino culture and who can become better educated.”

UISG Sens. Celina Carr, Yeltsin Rodrieguez, and Oliver Hidalgo-Wolleben all spoke in support of the minor.

“At the end of the day, we want students to come to the university to be able to study something that interests them,” Carr said. “And at the end of the day, students can graduate and apply this minor to a career, and I think that is really fundamental about this resolution.”

Rodrieguez said that though he would not participate in the minor as a Latino, he was still in support.
“I still think it is vastly important to have the opportunity for anyone of any race, color, creed, to be able to understand such a significant demographic in our society,” he said.

Hidalgo-Wohlleben said he believed the Latino Studies minor was not only a matter of becoming leaders in the field, but a matter of “playing catch up”.

“I think there is a national demand for this program,” Hidalgo-Wohlleben said.

The proposal for the Latino Studies minor has not been completed, but must be approved by Mason and Djalali.

“This is a really good minor for students of all programs,” said UISG President Katherine Valde. “It’s a step in the right direction.”


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