Latinx @ UVA

Latinx @ UVA

Latinx Student Alliance

The Latinx Student Alliance works as a network of support for the Hispanic/Latinx community, at the graduate and undergraduate level. The organization serves to advocate for and voice the concerns of Hispanic/Latinx students at the University of Virginia. The organization plans events and coordinates initiatives that support the cultural, social, political, or academic interests or development of the Hispanic/Latinx community, as well as promotes an inclusive, diverse, and equitable environment for Hispanic/Latinx students and all UVA students on Grounds. Above all, the Latinx Student Alliance actively seeks to encompass the Hispanic/Latinx community in its entirety and provide an array of opportunities for Latinxs at UVA to get engaged and connect with one another.

Mission:

The Latinx Student Alliance is a student-organization that strives to promote an equitable, inclusive, and diverse environment for Hispanic/Latinx students at the University of Virginia. Through our events and initiatives, LSA aims to make the University a "home away from home" for Hispanic/Latinx students through its work within the community and with the University administration.

 


Our Website: Website

Founding year:

La Sociedad Hispánica - approx. 1992

La Sociedad Latina - approx. 1998-2000

La Alianza - 2000-2008

Latino Student Union - 2003-2008

Latino Student Alliance - 2008-2017

Latinx Student Alliance - 2017 to Present

Creation:

The history of the now Latinx Student Alliance began in the early 1990s with the creation of La Sociedad Hispanica, the first Latino-oriented organization at the University of Virginia, which became La Sociedad Latina in 1998. According to a 2000 listing of Student Organizations of Interest and Some Related Student Service Programs, La Sociedad Latina was “a student organization devoted to building Latino student unity and community as well as educating the wider community.”

In 2000, La Alianza was created by Pablo Davis, the first assistant dean of Latino students,  as a working group that brought together leaders of the Hispanic/Latino related student organizations on Grounds. Around the same time, in 2003, the Latino Student Union began garnering support as an organization.

In the 2008-2009 academic year, the Latino Student Alliance was formed due to a merger between La Alianza and the Latino Student Union. La Alianza was geared toward student discussion of issues pertinent to the Latino Community at UVa. In order to have a more autonomous voice regarding how to respond to issues faced by Latino students, and to escape from the limitations brought forth by having a faculty-led program through the Dean of Students, participants in La Alianza and the Latino Student Union decided to merge and form the new, student-led CIO organization Latino Student Alliance, which served as the representative body for Latinos in the University.

Since its creation, the Latino Student Alliance wanted to shift the perception of a Latino organization away from food and social dancing. Instead, the organization strived to incorporate political significance through a renewed focus on advocacy. The Latino Student Alliance organized two committees, cultura and advocacy, which was smaller than the now Latinx Student Alliance’s five chair system.

Much has changed since then. As the community has grown, LSA no longer functions as an umbrella organization, but as a group dedicated to improving the UVA experience for Hispanic/Latinx students through its work with the University administration.

In 2017, the organization changed its name to the "Latinx Student Alliance" to reflect their solidarity and dedication to creating an inclusive and tolerant environment for all students at the university. Since its inception, LSA continues to strive for the empowerment of the Hispanic/Latinx community at the University of Virginia.

Structure:

The organization is comprised of an executive board and general body. Both general body members and executive board members are able to vote for the incoming president, vice president of organizations, and vice president of community outreach through a general election held in the spring of each year. In order to vote, general body and executive board members must attend at least 6 LSA events throughout the year. All other positions are selected through an application and appointment process.

Efforts:

Throughout its history, the Latinx Student Alliance has worked to welcome, recognize, and celebrate the identities and histories of many different Hispanic/Latinx community members, inside and outside of the University. The Latino Student Alliance, formed in 2008, initially centered their advocacy around undocumented individuals rights to attend the University, hiring more brown professors, and promoting awareness of DACA.

In 2013, the Larino Student Alliance received the Seven Society Award for LSA’s advocacy work, which was one of the first times the organization was recognized at an institutional level. Additionally, LSA strove to foster partnerships with Living Wage and the Minority Rights Coalities in order to gain more politically inclined supporters.

In 2017, the LSA executive board voted to change the name of the organization to Latinx Student Alliance, a decision that was met with controversy as well as support. The name was officially changed after a week long event entitled “Follow the X.” During this week, LSA members held events discussion Latinx and language. These events included a chat about Larinx, a discussion about inclusive language, and the creation of an inclusivity pledge.

In the 2018 fall semester, The Latinx Student Alliance, in collaboration with other Hispanic/Latinx organizations on Grounds organized the #LatinxUVA campaign, a collaborative effort by Hispanic/Latinx student organizations to bring awareness about our experiences at the University and the shortcomings of the institution in supporting marginalized students. Through this campaign, LSA released an open letter to the University community addressing  concerns as a community, which received over 90 student organizations signatures and over 500 individual signatures of support in a matter of days. Following the open letter, Hispanic/Latinx organizations also shared student stories and poems speaking on their experiences as Latinx students at the University. This was a way to highlight the stories of students and share their personal experiences with members of the University. We then concluded the campaign with Our University to Shape, an 17-paged proposal written by Hispanic/Latinx students addressing some concerns of the Hispanic/Latinx community to the UVA administration (the proposal can be found at https://lsaatuva.weebly.com/our-university-to-shape.html). After its release, the Latinx Student Alliance has been working closely with the University administration in order to see the concerns of the community addressed.

The Latinx Student Alliance also actively supported We Are Not Invisible, a report on academic reform released by the Asian Leaders Council at UVA. In conjuncture, LSA has been meeting with the University administrators to discuss the departmentalization of the American Studies program to order to create cultural and ethnic major programs, like Latinx Studies and Asian American Studies. LSA is also in collaboration with the Office of the Provost to include student participation in both the faculty hiring process and curriculum committees in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Information collected through an interview with Kayla Dunn (C/O 2020), Gina Marie Flores (C/O 2000), Alexa Proffitt (C/O 2012), and Archives