Latina/o studies minor first of its kind in region

The university will now offer a Latina/o studies minor within the AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The new minor is an interdisciplinary program that is not bound by geographical borders, like the Latin American studies minor that was canceled last year, said Hjamil Martinez-Vazquez, a religion professor and the main proponent of the new program.

He said the Latin American studies minor excluded Spanish and Mexican citizens, along with other countries whose citizens are all Latinos.

Martinez-Vazquez said the Latina/o studies minor is the first of its kind among universities in North Texas.

“The minor focuses on more than just Mexican-American studies,” Martinez-Vazquez said. “It will encompass multiple Latino communities.”

The new minor was announced Monday night in Smith Hall, followed by a presentation from Alberto Lopez Pulido, director of the Ethnic Studies Program at the University of San Diego.

Pulido gave a lecture titled, “Julian Samora and the Establishment of Latino Studies: Movement Beyond Borders,” to more than 30 students and faculty in Smith Hall.

Julian Samora, a mentor to Pulido, was the first to establish Mexican-American studies as a specific area of study, Martinez-Vazquez said.

“We decided we needed a speaker who could speak to the importance of Latino Studies as an academic field,” Martinez-Vazquez said.

Pulido said it is important to understand what is happening both domestically and internationally because Latinos are the fastest growing ethnicity in the country.

Michael Butler, associate dean of AddRan College, said the minor was approved at February’s University Undergraduate Council meeting.

Butler said it is similar to other multidisciplinary programs like the Asian studies minor because courses will be offered in many departments. However, Andrew Schoolmaster, dean of the AddRan College said he thinks it is a completely unique program.

Pulido said it is important for an ethnic studies program to receive support from the administration.

Schoolmaster said he thinks TCU is dedicated to this minor.

“We have given the program its own space in the new building and it also has its own budget,” Schoolmaster said.

The only required class is Introduction to Latina/o Studies.

The remaining 15 required hours must come from three different departments among the approved minor courses, Martinez-Vazquez said.

The approved courses, a majority of which are upper-level, come from the departments of anthropology, criminal justice, history, political science, religion and sociology, Martinez-Vazquez said.

He said the number of courses approved will grow as more students and faculty learn about the minor.

Amy Arsenault, a sophomore political science major, said she’s glad to see the university starting a Latina/o studies program.

“I was a Latin American studies minor when I first came in and then they canceled it,” Arsenault said. “The minor is important because at the end of the day, Latinos are the fastest growing minority so it’s important to be able to relate to that background.”

Existing AddRan faculty will serve as the advisers to the program and a decision about the director of the program will be revisited in the summer, Martinez-Vazquez said.