By Corey Bush News Writer
Berea student Latino and Chicano advocates are attempting to push for more demographic-based inclusiveness in Berea College courses. These students are associated with Fighting for Equal Education (FEE) and the Latin American Student Association (LASA.)
“Berea College is doing a good job at accepting students that would consider themselves or align themselves with traditionally Latino/Chicanos/etc. groups, however there is no structure that would allow the students to feel belonging because they lack representation in faculty, staff, academic programs, and events,” stated Osvaldo Flores ’18.
“I appreciate the college’s attempt at increasing diversity. Their efforts in doing so are evident because I can see it through the students,” Flores continued, “However, we must also acknowledge the fact that there is an important need to have a undamental structure of support for this group of students who might not know much about the region’s culture. I understand that we might not have much control in diversifying the town of Berea or the state of Kentucky, but we should here in Berea College.”
Alejandro Galeana-Salinas ’19, vice-president of Fighting for Equal Education (F.E.E.), says, “I had different expectations of Berea when I first got here, because of the history of inclusiveness and progressiveness.” Berea College is known for its foundational commitments to racial equality, however it is focused more on the black-white divide.
“After almost a year of researching Berea College history, the community, it’s apparent that the College is lacking space for Latino students,” Galeana-Salinas continued, “We make up a big demographic of this campus but do not see adequate representation in the form of courses.
“There is a lack of communication between Latino students themselves, because many of us were the only ones there. Then they get here, and there’s a culture shock. They don’t know how to interact with other Latinos because they’re simply used to being the only ones.” Galeana-Salinas said.
Jesson Soto Ventura ’19, a member of the Latin American Student Association (LASA), says, “I’m fine with seeing more diversity in the different cultures. We have a lot of African-American courses, and Asian studies programs.
I’d like to see more involvement in technology fields here with more Latinos. Convo in general I would like to see more diverse. I, personally, want to see Latino with an emphasis in technology in convocations.”
Alondra Garcia ‘19, LASA member and Agricultural Studies major, says that the “inclusion of Latino courses and possibly a major is valuable to the growth of us as Latino students and the education of others. With the growth of the Latino student population here at Berea, I think it is important for us to have a space and courses on our history.”
These students plan to continue meeting with faculty and staff to push this issue.