Hispanic Student Group at Duke Demands Changes on Campus


A Hispanic student group at Duke University has made it clear that they are unwilling to aid in the recruitment of Hispanic students for the school unless a set of 10 demands are met, including the admission of illegal immigrants, additional funding for the group, and the allocation of funds for an annual awards ceremony.

Although the University is currently preparing for a Latino Student Recruitment Weekend, members of Mi Gente, or “My People,” said they will not participate until their demands, which were recently published in The Chronicle, are met by the school, reports Blake Neff for The Daily Caller.

“The actions that Mi Gente are taking assert that Duke University is not a safe space for Latinx’s and we no longer feel comfortable encouraging prospective students to attend a university where their numbers will be lauded but their humanity ignored,” the group said in its open letter to Duke administrators.

The letter, addressed to Duke University from Mi Gente, said that instead of helping to plan the weekend, the group would be focusing its energy on demanding that its “voice be heard” and its “community be represented” on campus.  The letter requested that a Latino cultural center be created at the school, as well as adding more Latino faculty members, a larger office space for Mi Gente and Latino students, and the creation of a Latino studies department to include a major, minor, and tenured faculty.

Other demands include providing need-blind admission for undocumented students, increasing pay for hourly workers to $15 per hour, and administering “a public apology for the routine negligence of Latinx issues on this campus.”

The writers of the letter gave the University until 5 p.m. on January 29 to offer a formal response to the demands, writes Rachel Chason for The Chronicle, but the University does not seem to have published a response at this time.

The group said that they had sent a letter to President Richard Brodhead in 2005 asking for the creation of a cultural center and additional Latino faculty members.  However, those requests have continued to go unanswered.

According to the 2013 Faculty Diversity Initiative’s biannual report, 2.1% of faculty consider themselves to be Latino.  While that figure has not changed between 1993 to 2012, the number of black faculty members more than tripled in the same time frame.

Meanwhile, recent years have seen an increase in the number of Latino students enrolled at the school.  While both the Class of 2017 and 2016 was 7% Latino, the Class of 2018 increased to 10% and the Class of 2019 has a record 11%, or 1,750 students.

While Duke has yet to respond to the groups’ demands, alumnus Alexandra Villasante-Fricke, who was co-president of Mi Gente in 2008, wrote in to The Chronicle on the topic to call it an unproductive move to simply demand a handout from the school.  She ended her letter by telling the group that “you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

The list of demands are similar to those seen last fall by black student groups at a number of colleges across the country, including Oberlin College, the University of Missouri, and Duke University.

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