NIU to increase Latinx student population

Julio Ceja, News Reporter

DeKALB —  NIU is expected to have 19-24% of total undergraduates coming from Latinx backgrounds in the upcoming years as students and administration have taken measures on and off  campus to ensure resources and opportunities for Hispanic and Latinx students.

Lawrence Cruz, chapter president for Lambda Theta Phi Latin fraternity, takes pride in the fact that their organization prioritizes academic and career success for Hispanic students. 

“We lead in respect to advocating and empowering Latino communities,” Cruz said. 

Lambda Theta Phi members come from different backgrounds and ethnicities, yet as a whole, the fraternity mobilizes resources for the advancement of the Latinx culture, Cruz said. 

“Our fraternity is Latin-based by tradition but not by definition,” Cruz said. “We have members who aren’t Latino who have embraced the culture and have been eager to learn more about different customs and beliefs.”  

Mayra Lagunas, associate vice president of Enrollment Services and director of Admissions, said enrollment numbers for Hispanic and Latinx students have increasingly gone up each year, which can be a result of the university’s proactive measures in communicating with Latinx communities and informing them about the resources and programs that the school has to offer. 

“Soon, we should see 19-24% of our total undergraduates coming from Hispanic, Latinx backgrounds,” Lagunas said. “We’ve also been very intentional in letting students know about the virtual presentations and in-person opportunities we have, which we offer in both English and Spanish.” 

Luis Santos-Rivas, director for the Latino Resource Center, believes that the university has been making progress in serving Hispanic and Latinx students through the resources that are provided through the center. 

“Many students don’t even know that we have a Latino Center until we send out emails to students telling them about the things that we provide and help Latino students with,” Santos-Rivas said. “We have been here for over 20 years already. The Latino Resource Center is always open for new venues, new ideas and welcomes all students to swing by.” 

Even after a year away from being able to host in-person events and connecting with students on campus, the turnout in participation at the Latino Resource Center has been greater than anticipated, Santos-Rivas said. 

“I’m very happy with the turnout at one of our last events; we had like over 300 students,” Santos-Rivas said.

Christiana Abreu, director for the Center of Latino and Latin American studies, said that the university tries to seek for more Hispanic and Latinx students through initiatives off and on campus. 

“Within Latino populations the university prepares Latinos to be workers like social workers, jobs in government and within administration,” Abreu said. “We also offer through our minor internships and independent study credits.” 

Students interested in learning more about the resources that are available to Latinx students can reach out to Luis Santos-Rivas at lsantosrivas@niu.edu for more information.