Mi Gente, Duke’s latino student association, is working to get its own office space.
The Center for Multicultural Affairs has been home to the association’s activities up until now. The desire for a physical location separate from the CMA is part of an effort to increase Mi Gente’s presence and visibility on campus. Some minority student groups have space already—such as the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture and the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. The search for space has been a major priority for this year’s Mi Gente executive council.
“We understand that a large space such as the Mary Lou requires time and alumni support, so our first step toward acquiring a cultural space like the Mary Lou is an office space,” Mi Gente co-President Karina Santellano, a junior, wrote in an email.
Santellano did not indicate a specific timeline, but she noted that they want the space as soon as possible. Ideally, the space would be in the Bryan Center.
The office space, if granted, will serve as a place where the Mi Gente executive council can hold their meetings and plan cultural events, including Latino Student Recruitment Weekend. The space would also be a site for learning more about Latino culture.
“We need a space for which to not only conduct meetings, plan events such as the LSRW and be active on campus, but also to allow the entire Duke population [to] know that both Latino and non-Latino students have a physical space to study, hang out and learn about Latino culture,” Santellano said.
The CMA has been supportive of Mi Gente’s efforts to look for office space, Santellano said. Other associations have been backing up Mi Gente’s efforts to obtain more visibility.
“We have received support from different student groups, including the Council for Collaborative Action, and are looking [forward] to furthering discussion and seriously ensuring that we are considered for space in the very near future,” Santellano said.
The group’s proposal will be discussed in a meeting Friday with Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta. Moneta said he has received a proposal from Mi Gente. He also noted that there is no formal process for requesting space.
The Black Student Alliance supports Mi Gente in their efforts to get campus space, said BSA President Marcus Benning, a senior.
“We feel that providing more spaces for minority student populations is a great gesture to show that the University is dedicated to creating an equitable environment for their students,” Benning said.