Leaders of La Voz Latina are worried about a drop in minority enrollment after the statewide ban on affirmative action.
They are banking on a name change to preserve one of the University’s biggest Latino student groups.
La Voz voted to abandon its Spanish-language name and replace it with Latino Students Organization.
LSA senior Jenn Ortiz, one of the group’s leaders, said members of the organization were concerned that the name La Voz Latina excluded Latino students who do not speak Spanish or who have not grown up with “a strong foundation” in the Latino community.
“We feel that the name change would make our organization more accessible and identifiable to the Latinos that are currently on campus, the ones that will enroll in the future and the campus as a whole,” Ortiz said in an e-mail interview.
This decision comes amid declining Latino student enrollment and the elimination of race-based affirmative action programs by Proposal 2. Last year, Latino students composed 3 percent of undergraduates, down from 4.3 percent in 2004, according to the Office of the Registrar.
Ortiz said she expects this trend to continue because of Proposal 2.
“It is also important for our organization to be as accepting as possible of the variety of definitions of what it means to be ‘Latino’,” Ortiz said.
This is not the first time the organization has changed its name to broaden its appeal and bolster membership. The Latino Students Organization was originally called La Voz Mexicana. In the early 1990s, the group changed its name to La Voz Latina to include members who were not of Mexican descent, Ortiz said.
Ruben Soto, a Business School junior and a member of the group, said that with the name La Voz Latina, people saw the group as more of a social club than an organization that served the Latino community.
Soto said he hopes the Latino Student Organization will have an image similar to groups like the Black Student Union. La Voz is changing more than just its name, he said. It’s trying to change the group so that people do not attend activities just to meet with friends but also to help the Latino community.
Soto said he has noticed a decline in the Latino community on campus this year. Usually, at least 40 people participate in four-day program for incoming Latino students. This year there were only 20, Soto said.
Soto said the number of participants in La Voz Latina have dropped off as well.