Teacher shortage upsets students

By Brenden Walz

A shortage of instructors to teach courses in Latino history and culture for NIU’s Latino and Latin American Studies minor is leaving some NIU students upset.

The lack of courses has drawn complaints from a newly-formed group which is concerned primarily with social and political issues.

In two letters to the editor in Monday’s Northern Star, NIU students Elizabeth Monge and Pablo Palominos criticized the NIU Center for Latino and Latin American Studies for neglecting course offerings dealing with Latino culture.

To address the issue of the lack of courses on Latino culture, Monge and Palominos have joined with other Latino students to form a new student group.

The title of the group is El Pueblo Unido, which translates into English as “The People United.”

Monge said the purpose of the group is “to educate ourselves about our culture and to make sure that NIU addresses the concerns of the Latino student body.”

Monge and other members of El Pueblo Unido said the main reason they came to NIU was because NIU offered courses in Latino and Latin American studies.

But once they arrived here, Monge and others said they found the courses as being sparsely available.

“That was one of my main interests in coming here to NIU,” Palominos said.

Palominos said he only was able to get scheduled into three courses offered during his freshman year, but has not been able to register for other courses he wants.

Palominos and other members of the group said they are not trying to eliminate courses on Latin American Studies, which deals with Central and South America. They are trying, however, to make sure the center offers an equal number of courses on Latino culture and history, which deals with Latin Americans in the United States.

But Michael Gonzales, director of the Center for Latino Studies, said the blame for the lack of Latino-related courses lies with academic departments within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“The center only controls one course in the curriculum—ILAS 100,” Gonzales said. “We don’t have the staffing and budget to offer courses.”

He said the availability of courses depends on whether there are instructors available to teach courses.

He said the instructors have to teach courses for the center without being paid at the same time they teach their regular load of courses.

“They have to teach it on load,” Gonzales said. “It doesn’t count toward their regular teaching loads.”