Center questioned

This letter is addressed to the Center for Latino/Latin American Studies questioning its services as a source of academics for Latinos. The Center has fallen short in pursuing one of its main objectives of adequately representing the Latino experience here in the United States, in terms of the minor that the Center offers. Furthermore, the one true scholar that we have in describing this Latino experience in the U.S. has been terminated from the Center (that person being Professor Mike Fraga).

Our people have been here long before any other ethnic group in the United States. We have a rich history of struggle and identification here in the U.S. Is the Center truly trying to promote cultural awareness and our history or is it trying to sweep it under the rug? The age of the Hispanic has died, the rise of the new Latino/Chicano era has come and we want to be respectively represented.

The Center for Latino/Latin American Studies has done a very good job in terms of studying Latin America. But again, the question is asked, “What about the Latino aspect?” The Center had an opening to fill for this semester which could have been filled with another Latino scholar to work with Prof. Fraga, but instead hired another specialist in Latin America. Out of twenty-eight faculty associates, only one is qualified to teach the Latino experience here in the United States, and as I stated before, this person has been terminated from the Center.

A side note to all of this is the concern that in the four years that I have been on this campus not once has there been a class offered on the Puerto-Rican experience. Puerto-Ricans are the second largest Latino group in the United States and yet we know very little if anything of their experience as people. The Center’s minor offers one class on Puerto-Ricans, Sociology 495: “Proseminar in Sociology: Puerto Rico/Puerto Ricans,” which hasn’t been taught in the four years I have been here. Why hasn’t there been a development of a class like “History of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans in the U.S.” It seems at times that the Center lacks creativity.

I do not mean to be critical and I am grateful for the specialists that we have on Latin America. I just wonder if the Center is trying to find a balance between Latinos and Latin America. I know NIU has suffered many cutbacks this same year, but at the same time, the Center was able to find a replacement to teach more Latin America.

Try to be more diverse, Center for Latino/Latin America

Studies, because you are doing a disservice to our people and our struggle. It has already been predicted that by the year 2000 Latinos will be the majority of the minority.

Pablo Palominos

El Pueblo Unido