The Strength In Numbers

Jennifer Chen

By Jennifer ChenThe Daily Northwestern

There are only 20 students officially enrolled in Introduction to Latino Studies, but adjunct lecturer Geraldine Franco is used to having a few more.

She lets those extra students be. They just want to sit in and listen, and that’s fine with her.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough chairs for everybody so we can’t enroll any more students,” she said. “But it tells you there’s a demand for the course and not enough faculty to teach it.”

This quarter marks the 10th time the course has been offered since its 2002 debut, and Franco said high student interest in the study of Latino culture in the United States demonstrates the need for a Latino studies program at Northwestern.

The effort to create such a program was put into motion in 2000 and 2001, when Alianza – NU’s Hispanic and Latino cultural group – collected almost 1,000 signatures calling for a Latino studies minor, and Associated Student Government passed a bill endorsing its request.

Interest in the program later waned because no organized group pushed the measure forward until February 2006, when Alianza again committed itself to taking up the issue, according to Sonia Hart, the group’s co-president.

“For a few years there was not much going on except for research behind the scenes,” said Hart, a SESP junior. “But last year, a few students and I got interested again and saw what we could do.”

Administrators in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences hired two new professors to teach Latino studies curricula: John Márquez, an assistant professor of African-American and Latino studies, and Ana Aparicio, currently an assistant professor at New York University, who will work in NU’s anthropology department.

Weinberg administrators also convened a faculty committee last quarter expressly for Latino studies, said Jorge Coronado, acting director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies department.

The new professors are a huge step toward a Latino Studies program, said Blanca M