Being Latino at CSU

Sep 182003
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Michaela Lune knows she is a minority as a Latina student at


“But sometimes you feel like you have nobody who looks like you,

or nobody who has the same experiences that you do,” said Lune, a

senior human development in family studies and Spanish major.

Latinos make up about 6 percent of the students at CSU,

according to the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis. The

population of Fort Collins is 8.8 percent Latino, according to the

2000 U.S. Census.

Lune is a first generation college student, which she said makes

finding “resources, (like) knowing who to contact, knowing where to

go when you need help or if you want scholarships, where you can

find scholarships” all difficult.

Lune, like many other students of minorities, often finds she is

the only Hispanic student in her class.

“In my Spanish classes, there’s most often never a Hispanic (in

class) besides me,” she said.

Some Latino students have experienced discrimination in Fort


“Where I feel the most discrimination is through the police

force, in general,” said Nathan Castillo, a senior psychology

major. “I have a group of friends and we throw parties. We’ve all

noticed that the police come down harder on us than they do for

other events. If there’s a fight, they say ”Oh, well, you can’t

have parties any more, because you’ll always have fights.’ They

generalize. Whereas at bars and stuff…there are three or four

fights a night there, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I mean,

they don’t get reprimanded, there are cops sitting out there

watching that.”

Even on campus, students have overheard racial slurs.

“I am light skinned, I grow light hair, my eyes are light,

people don’t think I am Hispanic,” Lune said. “So they will make

comments, and I hear them. For instance, one time on campus, I was

standing in between classes, and there were these two guys standing

right next to me just having a conversation amongst themselves. One

of the guys said, ‘Yeah, I’m really mad because I’m losing a lot of

the hours at my job.’ His friend asked why and he said, ‘Because

all these wetbacks are taking my hours.'”

Guadalupe Salazar, the director of CSU’s El Centro Student

Services, recalled one student’s experience in a speech class.

“Two young men did their presentation on Tijuana. And they

referred to Tijuana as a resort where you could find a woman for 20

bucks and when you were in a restaurant you never saw any dogs

because you were probably eating them. She came in here just in

tears. You couldn’t believe it. They laughed at (the presentation),

the instructor never said anything,” Salazar said. The class’s

instructor refused to meet with her, she said.

When asked what would help most, both Lune and Castillo

suggested a curriculum change.

“(It would help) to include some sort of ethnic education into

the (All University Core Curriculum),” Castillo said. “I know that

they have a certain number of classes they have, like their math

class, their speech class. I think that if they were required to

take six credits of courses through (Center for Applied Studies in

American Ethnicity) it would reduce the ignorance, just by the fact

they would be presented with issues they don’t think about every


Peter Nicholls, the provost/academic vice president, said that

while ethnic awareness is something the university values, changing

university core curriculum can be a lengthy and difficult


“The only way to get a proposal through the system is to have

the proposal come, I think the route it would follow, is it would

come from the faculty to the University Curriculum Committee,”

Nicholls said.

He also said the university had a global/cultural awareness core

curriculum requirement that was intended to fulfill the same

purpose the students suggested.

Salazar said students would be most helped by feeling accepted

and valued.

“By (other students) understanding that this country is made of

many different people,” she said. “Appreciating diversity, I think

it is education.”





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