A name change could be coming to the University of California, Los Angeles’ César E. Chávez Department of Chicana & Chicano Studies. Reportedly, the department’s faculty will vote on Friday, November 15, 2019, to decide whether “Central American” should be tacked on.
A letter from the student leaders of la Unión Centroamericana de Estudiantes and the Central American Isthmus Graduate Association at UCLA expresses support for the addition of the term, which would officially make the department the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana, Chicano Studies and Central American Studies.
“[We] wholeheartedly support this decision and welcome a vote in favor of the proposed name change,” the letter reads. “The addition of ‘Central Amerian’ to the department names comes at a crucial time when the urgency for Central American studies is most pressing. This is especially true in Los Angeles, the home of the largest Central American Diaspora. In the face of constant inaccurate coverage in mainstream media that promotes false one-sided representations lacking historical context and analysis, Central Americans have long advocated for visibility and representation.”
Central Americans don’t often see themselves represented in media, academia and more. While we’ve seen some changes in the last few years, many in this community still feel that their stories and histories are an afterthought, which is why just adding a phrase that represents the isthmus isn’t enough. In their letter, the student leaders also called on the department to take action to make the department truly inclusive. They asked for approval of a Central American studies minor within the next year and a major within the next five. They also asked for more funding, Central American Studies faculty and representation at faculty meetings.
Read their letter below: