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Chicano Studies At the University of Mexico Getting New, Inclusive Name

Chicano Studies At the University of Mexico Getting New, Inclusive Name

The University of New Mexico’s Chicano Studies Program is getting a more inclusive name.

The program, which began in 1971, has changed from Chicano studies to Southwest Hispanic studies. Now, it’s becoming Chicano, Hispano, Mexicano studies.

The new name is more inclusive, says program director Dr. Enrique Lamadrid.

“In order for us to increase enrollments, we had to put something out there that students could identify with and recognize,” he says.

“When you take an ethnic-related class, you normally want to relate or gain something from it personally,” he says. “And I’ve had students tell me, ‘There’s nothing in Chicano studies for me.'”

He says the program and its commitments remain the same.

The undergraduate program had 180 students in the fall semester, 40 of whom declared a Chicano studies minor. If enrollment can be increased, UNM might be able to create an undergraduate, interdisciplinary major, Lamadrid says.

Not everyone is happy with the name change.

Lamadrid says community groups were advised, but Hispano Round Table of New Mexico chairman Juan José Peña says his group’s concerns were ignored.

“I felt the general consensus at university forums addressing the matter was that students didn’t want the program’s name to be changed,” says Peña, a former Chicano studies director at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas.

UNM senior Ernestina Carrillo, who calls herself “Chicana,” says the program needs to do a better job of getting the word out rather than change its name.

“A lot of people think this is an identity issue, but it’s not,” she says. “It’s a specific study issue.

“The title of the program shouldn’t be about what we want to call ourselves. We want African Americans and Anglos to take these classes. That doesn’t mean we should add those names to the program title too, does it?”

Lamadrid points out other university groups have changed their names to broaden their focus.

El Centro de la Raza was once El Centro Chicano, while the university’s Latino politics course was once Chicano politics, he says.

—  Associated Press

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