From the Daily: Support La Casa's demands for increased representation

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 7:20pm

Last week, the Latinx Alliance for Community Action, Support and Advocacy sent a list of demands to administrators detailing where the University of Michigan needs to increase their support for the Latinx community. As the national political climate becomes more hostile toward Latinx communities and incidents of hostility toward the Latinx community on campus continue, the University needs to live up to their values of diversity and inclusion to ensure that Latinx students and faculty are supported on campus. The Michigan Daily Editorial Board stands in solidarity with La Casa as they seek action on these demands, and calls on the administration to listen to them. Recognizing and acting on the barriers Latinx students and faculty face will not only help the Latinx community, but also have effects that reverberate throughout the campus when it comes to diversity. 

The recent campus climate survey conducted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion found Latinx students are 132 percent more likely to feel discrimination than their white peers. Along with this feeling, the proportion of Latinx students at the University is rising: 7.33 percent of the 2017 freshman class identified as Hispanic while 6.67 percent of the student body as a whole was comprised of Hispanic students.

Yet, the University has not kept pace with supporting Latinx students. Specifically, La Casa takes issue with the few Latinx faculty members hired at the University in addition to the lack of Latinx studies faculty at the University and the subsequent increased workload that falls on them as they must support students and engage in their own scholarship. The lack of community-focused faculty members in a time where the Latinx community is increasingly important to our nation’s political rhetoric sends a message that the community is of little interest to the University, even as it tries to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion. The additional steps demanded, including the creation of a presidential advisory committee, are relatively simple, tangible actions that can be taken to demonstrate the importance of the Latinx community at the University and give them space for dialogue and representation.

The University also has a commitment to its students to make sure they feel safe and supported in their academic community. One of the major advertising points of the University is the diverse campus atmosphere. However, the school needs to realize there are unique communities beneath the umbrella term “diverse,” each with their own wants and needs. With increased animosity towards Latinx communities around the nation, it becomes even more necessary for the University to create spaces of safety where students and faculty alike can learn about the barriers that Latinx students face here at the school and work with the University to take concrete action to break them down.

As the nation pushes forward with the debate over the Latinx community, the University needs to support its own population and take substantial action in championing their Latinx students and staff. The first steps the University should take are enacting the demands of La Casa and continuing to listen to the group,  should more issues arise.