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For Latinx Heritage Month, Celebrate Our “Achievements and Moments of Joy”

Vice-Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Dania Matos sent the following message to the campus community on Friday:

Each year we celebrate National Latinx Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. The past twelve months have been particularly difficult for many Latinx communities, but there have also been wonderful accomplishments and times of joy.

Dania Matos is the new Equity and Inclusion Manager at UC Berkeley. (Photo courtesy of Dania Matos)

For those I haven’t met yet, I’m Dania Matos, the new Vice-Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion. I recently came from UC Merced where I was the first Associate Chancellor and Director of Diversity. I have a background in law, racial justice and intersectionality and look forward to working with you to increase inclusion, belonging and justice on our campus.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on Latinx communities across the country, resulting in greater impacts on our health, finances, and well-being. In fact, a recent survey by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, led by co-directors G. Cristina Mora and Eric Schickler, found that people in Latin American and Native American communities were less confident about their finances and of their health problems than other groups. And our UC alumnus and faculty member Dr David Hayes-Bautista recently released a report with UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latin American Health and Culture that explores the number of Disproportionate deaths for communities of color, especially for the elderly in Pacific Island communities and Latinx.

The strength of Latinx communities is demonstrated from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to student activism on campus. UC Berkeley students have a long history of organizing space on campus: from the creation of the César E. Chávez Student Center to the creation of the Multicultural Community Center in the Martin Luther King Jr. building. continues and students have worked hard to establish a new Latinx Student Resource Center (LSRC) which will open in early 2022. The “phase 1” space of the LSRC will be located at Hearst Gym and will be managed by the office Development Center for Chicanx / Latinx Students. , directed by director Lupe Gallegos-Diaz. Students will co-create programs and create a familia y comunidad that increases their sense of belonging to UC Berkeley.

UC Berkeley is committed to becoming an Institution Serving Hispanics (HSI) by 2027. The HSI Initiative is UC Berkeley’s plan to increase the number of Latinx students and create sentiment membership where Chicanx / Latinx students can flourish academically, personally and professionally. Campus speakers, led by Co-Chairs Dr Oscar Dubón and Dr Kris Gutierrez, completed the HSI Working Group Preliminary Report in Spring 2021. The university is delighted to announce that our new Fall 2021 class is again exceptionally diverse and brings us closer to our HSI goals. The university increased the number of admitted students from underrepresented communities in higher education, including Chicanx / Latinx students, by almost 7% from fall 2020. We welcomed our newcomers. students with the shared book for new freshmen and transfer students, The Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. The author gave a talk at Golden Bear Orientation last month and more book programming is planned for this fall.

Increasing the number of Latinx professors at Berkeley is also an institutional priority and will be a key component in becoming an HSI. The university has adopted the strategy of “recruiting faculty clusters” as a means of creating intellectual communities and diversifying the faculty. The Latinx Communities and Democracy cluster will begin the recruitment process this academic year 2021-22.

Research by and on Latinx communities continues to thrive in Cal. The Latinx Research Center continued to host important programs throughout the pandemic year, including “Decolonizing Epistemologies: A Conversation with Latinx Philosophers” and a new podcast by poet Alán Pelaez Lopez titled “What’s In a Name? Where they explore the term “Latinx”. The Latinxs and Environment Initiative provides students with research opportunities focused on issues of climate change and environmental justice. Representatives recently attended the Second Annual Agriculture and Technology Conference in Stockton, Calif., Hosted by the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, led by Cal’s former student Esperanza Vielma.

We are delighted to announce that we have ten UC Berkeley Award winners who have received the Northern California Chicana Latina Foundation Fellowship. The organization’s mission is to empower Chicanas and Latinas through personal, educational and professional advancement.

To help commemorate the important role that the students, faculty, and staff of Chicanx and Latinx have played on this campus, the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Chicanx Latinx Student Development Center, and the premier learning program cycle have teamed up to launch the Legacy Timeline project. This project researches and documents the role and history of the Chicanx and Latinx community on the UC Berkeley campus. For more information, please contact Lillian Castillo Speed ​​or Lupe Gallegos-Diaz.

Please join me in welcoming the California Alumni Association (CAA) to its new president, Alfonso Salazar. Alfonso is a UC Berkeley ’90 alumnus who was a student activist in organizations such as MEChA and United Students of Color. He is committed to working with student leaders and continuing to diversify the leadership of CAA. To continue building a pipeline of Latinx leaders across the system, the Chicanx Latinx Advisory Board will host the Chicanx Latinx Leadership Summit on Monday, September 20. Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz of UC Merced will introduce President Drake, who will speak with Moderator Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Educational Partnerships at UC Irvine.

UC Chicanx Latinx Alumni Association, the new collective organization for UC’s ten campuses, was recently recognized by UC President Michael V. Drake, MD, as the “first” group of alumni. system-wide in over 150 years of UC history! The group’s mission is to advocate and represent the collective interests of Latinx alumni on UC’s ten campuses to the Office of the President of the University of California. And our current UCB Chicanx Latinx Alumni Association (UCB CLAA) is gearing up for its Homecoming event on October 2, which will feature a speaker, scholarship ceremony, and alumni class reunions.

Alumni are also kicking off the Legacy 2022 event which will feature three days of alumni celebrations, networking and campus engagement.

We invite you to learn more about Latinx Heritage Month here at UC Berkeley and to read, listen, learn, participate and engage with the many communities and activities highlighted this month.


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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.

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