Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Berkeley to Launch ‘Chicana/o and Latina/o Task Force’

Source: Flickr/ via John Morgan (CC BY 2.0)

The University of California, Berkeley has announced it will create a task force to address the needs of Mexican-American and Latino communities on campus.

The announcement is the latest in a series of the administration’s responses to a campus climate survey three years ago that deemed the campus “unwelcoming,” The Daily Californian reported Sunday. At that time, 42 percent of black respondents and 34 percent of Chicanos — another term used for Mexican-Americans — and Latinos reported they had encountered some form of exclusion, intimidation, bullying or isolation. 

Last September, the university launched the UC Berkeley African American Initiative, which included plans for a $20 million-endowed scholarship fund for black undergraduates, implementation of diversity training, a wellness course for freshmen that will address inclusion, and other measures to improve campus climate. 

The UC Berkeley Chicana/o and Latina/o Task Force has been “a long time coming,” Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Na’ilah Nasir told the Californian, the campus’ student-led newspaper, and campus leaders are hoping at least two things are addressed: the absence of Chicanos and Latinos in the administration and a failure to allot space to campus organizations representing these minority groups. (Students have complained the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center that once occupied a large room in Eshleman Hall has since been allocated half of a cubicle in the building’s basement.)

The task force will offer a formal channel through which individuals can give input to the administration, and Nasir hopes people with a “real interest and knowledge of these communities” will take advantage of the platform, she said. 

The task force is still in the early stages. In the announcement, the administration asked for recommendations for potential members, who will provide counsel to campus leaders and represent the viewpoints of Berkeley’s Chicano and Latino communities.