September 17, 2014
By Angelo Gonzalez
The Latino and Mexican American studies minor will begin in spring 2015.
Pat Rubio Goldsmith, associate sociology professor and director of the new minor, said the minor began mostly from the initiative of the students who organized to work with student organizations and put together a petition drive.
The accumulation of 2,000 signatures and support of faculty helped drive the initiative, Goldsmith said.
“We started a faculty working group and we have put together the minor, the classes that are going to be involved in it and we’ve gone through the committees that are required,” Goldsmith said.
Isaac Chavez, biochemistry junior and a leader in the initiative, said a group of 12 to 15 student leaders helped lead the effort, which began in March and was approved by the dean in late April.
Once the paperwork was put together and the faculty had established a curriculum, it was sent through the faculty senate agenda and received approval Monday — the last major hurdle, said Joe Rodriguez, political science senior and a leader in the initiative.
Professors involved come from colleges such as health, geosciences and education, Chavez said.
“They’re trying to make the program as diverse as possible so they could reach out to Latinos and non-Latinos all over campus,” Chavez said.
The Latino minor will offer a study of Latinos in the United States and the history and conditions in which Latinos currently live, Goldsmith said.
“It’s a minor that’s available for everybody and we think everyone can benefit from it,” Goldsmith said. “It’s focused on helping us understand the world a little bit from a Latino perspective and also the kind of conditions that we face.”
On campuses across the United States, there are Latino studies programs in universities such as Minnesota, Indiana and Northwestern, and it is time for a state flagship university in Texas to have one, Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith said the student -led initiative is one of many efforts that Latino students are passionate and motivated about in current events.
“Latino students are incredibly active,” Goldsmith said. “There’s so many things that they’re fighting for around immigration, the dream act and DACA that they’re just jazzed up, and with us faculty members we’re just trying to harness part of their power and channel it into this direction, so hopefully it’ll work.”
Although the minor has been successful in its initiative, it did face apprehension from others within the community last spring, Rodriguez said.
“It was taken up for a vote to see if the Student Senate would support the initiative and the resolution was not passed because some people said that it was not conducive or relevant to the mission or to Texas A&M,” Rodriguez said.
Student Senate, however, could not override the overall support of the liberal arts officials and students who continued to push for the minor, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said with the demographics changing in Texas, it’s important for people to be educated about the Latino community.
“The majority of students entering K-12 are Hispanic or speak Spanish or are Latino. As a public institution in the state of Texas we need to be aware of the needs of our population,” Rodriguez said. “Looking forward, this is a start of something big here at A&M. This is one small part of Texas A&M progressing and moving forward and making us a more inclusive environment.”
The Latino and Mexican American minor will open its enrollment to interested students in November.
Source: The Battalion Online