Review Center

This letter addresses my concern, as well as that of many other students, about the purpose of the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. I looked into this and found that the Center was supposed to offer a variety of programs designed to expand everyone’s knowledge and understanding of Latinos in the U.S. and their countries of origin. It is through the minor in Latino/Latin American studies that the Center is supposed to accomplish this purpose. One of the responsibilities of the director (Dr. Michael Gonzalez) is to facilitate the administration of the minor. The minor is supposed to be equally balanced in both aspects of Latino and Latin American Studies. Unfortunately, it does not fulfill that condition and has become one-sided.

Simply look at the courses offered for the past years. Those focusing on the Latino aspect have been replaced by those focusing on Latin America. Dr. Gonzalez has even eliminated the core course of the minor (Sociology of Latino Ethnicity) to implement one focusing on Latin America. I doubt if he asked the students how they felt about this. Also, there is only one Latino Studies instructor among 28 faculty associates and he has been terminated from the Center, leaving Latino Studies in a precarious situation.

My adviser was astonished that I chose this as my minor because of its lack of classes and its inability to attract students. Despite this, the Center continues to drain NIU’s money by boasting its “unique” minor. The “uniqueness” of the minor is the combination of Latino and Latin American Studies. NIU was one of the first universities in the U.S. to combine both studies. Initially this minor looked very promising, but it has proven to be unattractive to most students. This is reflected by the highest number of students ever enrolled, which is 10. I believe this clearly demonstrates that these two academic studies should be separate entities. There are a number of universities that have these studies as MAJORS!! I realize that perhaps NIU does not have the resources to match some institutions, but we could try harder. I have made several attempts to speak to Dr. Gonzalez about my concern, but I haven’t received any response.

The Center was created in 1978 as a result of the growing Latino student population here at NIU, who decided to protest for the study of Latinos in the U.S. NIU acknowledged that this was needed and that all students would benefit from such a program. It is a shame that the Center, under the direction of Dr. Gonzalez, has abandoned its commitment to Latino Studies in the U.S. to emphasize its interest in Latin America. I, along with other Latino students, hold Dr. Gonzalez responsible for this injustice and ask Dean Norris, Provost Baker, and President La Tourette to review the Center thoroughly and determine if the Center is being responsible in representing the Latino experience in the U.S.

SA Senator Nelson Perez


Political Science

Member of El Pueblo Unido