Administration starts study to better serve Latinx students

Eric Rosane, News Editor

The CWU administration launched a new committee this month that will review how the university is currently serving Latinx students and to examine the possibility of properly serving a student body that is over 25 percent Hispanic.

The committee, lead by Associate Provost Gail Mackin and four other faculty from different departments across CWU, will gather data relevant to how the university is serving Latinx and Hispanic communities. The new committee had their first meeting on Jan. 10 with 20 community members, students and faculty present. The committee will file a finished report by the end of spring quarter.

A Hispanic Serving Institute (HSI) is any institution whose student body is comprised of 25 percent or more Latinx students. CWU is currently designated as an “emerging” HSI, serving just over a 15 percent student body that is Latinx or Hispanic.

Anthropology Professor Rodrigo F. Renteria-Valencia is one of five CWU faculty leading the HSI committee. Renteria-Valencia sees this opportunity as a chance to better serve not only the Latinx communities here on campus, but to serve the communities throughout the Central Washington region.

Renteria-Valencia said that this idea of implementing a more inclusive environment to the increasingly diverse community is a conversation that has been developing for many years now.

“Many people have been reflecting in terms of who we are as an institution. It’s not that we don’t have an identity [or] that we don’t have a mission,” Renteria-Valencia said. “Any university changes through time, so it’s natural that faculty, staff and administration are constantly asking this question of who we are, who we serve, why we serve them and how we are going to do that.”

In October, Renteria-Valencia, Mackin and the three other leaders on the HSI committee attended the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) in San Diego.

During the two-day conference, the committee learned different ways that other HSI’s and emerging HSI’s were serving their Latinx communities. 2,200 representatives from universities across the nation attended this conference.

The conference primarily focused on how universities could reorganize to better serve Latinx populations and increase the number of Hispanic individuals in leadership positions.

Once the CWU committee left the conference, they began drafting a resolution to begin implementing strategies to better serve Latinx communities.

“While CWU is not an HSI, many of the initiatives and knowledge presented at HACU can directly benefit our daily practice at Central. More importantly, HACU represents a national conversation that Central should be apart of,” the resolution stated.

This change in “daily practices” comes at a very pivotal moment for CWU. Currently, more than one third of CWU students are persons of color. Mackin said that the focus to serving the Latinx community benefits everyone involved.

“Focusing on HSI status is a means to reflect on CWU’s inclusivity and ability to serve all students. It’s also a way to be known as a welcoming and inclusive institution,” Mackin said.

Mackins said that after she walked away from the HACU conference, she knew that this was the better way to assist Latinx students on every level, and assist Hispanic administrators and faculty. She also said that it’s important for students to see other people like them in positions of authority. It’s about building an all-inclusive environment that anybody would want to come and be apart of.

“We came away with the understanding that there’s so much energy and excitement in the Latinx community,” Mackin said while reflecting on HACU.