For the first time in its history, Duke’s Latino/a Student Association has a place on campus to call its own.
At a reception Thursday evening attended by approximately 100 students, staff and faculty, Mi Gente revealed its new office space on the ground floor of the Bryan Center across from the Center of Multicultural Affairs. The opening comes after last year’s executive council submitted a proposal to the Duke administration and the University Center Activities and Events. This year’s council continued the work with faculty to make the group’s goal a reality.
“We really focused on space—a tangible space—because the Latino students are spread out, and there’s very little of us,” said senior Jennifer Moreno, co-president of Mi Gente. “By not having a space, we aren’t always united, and coming together is very important to us."
The office space reveal featured the artwork of approximately 50 students reflecting on what diversity means to them as part of Mi Gente’s Alianza Latina campaign to promote the work of students on campus. Vice President Zamantha Granados, a junior, emphasized how much the campaign has grown in the past year and how much the involvement of alumni and faculty have helped—as was the case with securing the space in the Bryan Center.
With prospective Latino and Latina students visiting campus next weekend as part of Mi Gente’s Latino Student Recruitment Weekend, senior Liliana Fiorenti, co-president, said that the space is a step in the right direction but also a symbol of the future progress that the group can make.
“This will be an opportunity for them to see that we do have a space on campus but mostly...to realize that this is not it, [that] we’re not stopping here,” she said. “There’s an increased need for more Latino faculty on campus, for more support for the [Latino/a] Studies [in] the Global South program, for Duke students to recognize the importance of these classes given the changing demographics of North Carolina and the U.S."
Senior Karina Santellano, former co-president and current community interactions chair—who worked on the initial proposal for the space—noted that the limited size of the space should motivate the group to work toward occupying a more prominent area on campus in the future.
“It’s definitely just a temporary space—we’re looking to have a bigger office space because not even our council can fit in there. We have a council of 14 people and 14 people do not fit in there,” she said. “We really want to get a cultural space and make Duke a place where Latino and Latina students can feel comfortable.”
Update: This article was modified to reflect the official name of the Latino/a Studies in the Global South program.
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