The University of Oregon has approved Latinx Studies to join UO’s list of over 80 minors, after many years of discussion and help from students and faculty.
The Latinx Studies minor was proposed last year and Bruce Blonigen, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, approved it in June. The Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies department will be the administrative home for the Latinx minor and will be run by a coordinating committee of faculty members from across campus with expertise in Latinx Studies, according to Laura Pulido, the Ethnic Studies Department Head.
“[The Latinx minor] is meant to serve particularly to Latinx students to find a way of supporting them and for them to get specialized training in a field regardless of what their major is,” Pulido said. “In addition, we think the minor is also important for anybody interested in a more systematic study of the Latinx population.”
Pulido said that faculty and staff have been working hard this summer to put together an even larger intellectual program with activities to complement the minor.
Michael Hames-García is a professor of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies and is also the faculty director for the Latinx Scholars Academic Residential Community. Hames-García said that the minor comes after years of collaboration among faculty members in the field, meaning there was a lot of infrastructure to work from.
“One of the things that made the minor really possible is that the Romance Language department has developed this Spanish Heritage Language Program,” Hames-García said, which counts toward many credits for the minor.
Hames-García acknowledged that the UO can be a disorienting place for those not in a predominant group, but he hopes that this minor will speak to the experiences of those students and make them feel valued.
“My hopes are that it will fill a need for students,” Hames-García said. “I’ve heard students going back, you know, over 10 years saying that they were interested in there being some kind of Latinx Studies minor, and it’s so nice to be able to finally offer it.”
Natasha Eliana Castañeda, a first-year student at UO, also noted the adversity faced by minority groups at UO, but said she thought the minor will be a good way to create a sense of community among Latinx students.
“I think that there is diversity [at UO] but it's hard to find sometimes, especially as a first year,” Castañeda said. “I definitely feel like I did lack that sense of community when I was there fall term for freshman year.”
Castañeda also said that the approval of this minor is important in building the university’s overall diversity. “It's definitely an important step in the right direction for a university that calls themselves diverse,” Castañeda said.
Angelica Renteria, another first-year student at UO, agreed that many students would benefit from a Latinx Studies minor.
“I feel like adding a Latinx Studies minor will be really good because I know a lot of students that are Latinx would like to learn more about their culture,” Renteria said. “I feel like that would also be a really cool minor program for other communities that want to learn more about the Latinx community.”
Renteria also said that she would be interested in pursuing the minor. “I do want to double major with Spanish and I do want to minor in ethnic studies,” Renteria said. “But now that I know there's a Latinx Studies minor, I'm going to consider that, too.”