A select committee from the Raza Resource Centro held their first community meeting on Monday, June 4 to discuss the possibility of a name change for the resource center to be more inclusive of the Chicanx and Latinx community.
Located across from the Conrad Prebys Music Center on the first floor of the Student Services Building, the Raza Resource Centro (RRC) is a four-year-old Campus Community Center operating under Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Dr. Becky Petitt. Although open to everyone, this resource center aims to promote the retention of Chicanx and Latinx students and raise awareness of social justice issues in higher education. Administrative staff and student interns at RRC embrace the mission by offering socio-cultural activities, events, academic mentoring services, and critical community conversations every academic year.
The potential name change of RRC was initiated as a response to ongoing controversies surrounding the term “Raza” within the student body. Originally coined by Mexican scholar Jose Vasconcelos, “la raza” means “the people.” The phrase was intended to connote pride and ethnic solidarity among Latin Americans. However, according to Claudia Martinez, Assistant Director of RRC, the name “Raza” does not convey an inclusive message across all cultures.
“The English mistranslation of ‘raza’ is ‘the race’, which implies exclusivity. The significance of the term itself is also deeply rooted in Mexican history and culture,” Martinez explained. “This means that people of other Latin American upbringings, such as [non-Mexican] Afro-Latinos or Filipinos, might not have enough context to understand or identify with it.”
RRC Director Gerardo Arellano believes the potential name change can plant seeds for a campus movement and improve the culture of activism at UC San Diego. He revealed that RRC’s name change committee would continue to facilitate an open conversation both within UCSD and across colleges and universities in California to seek a name that could better represent the diversity of Chicanx and Latinx experiences.
“The discussion on ‘Raza’ is an opportunity for students to pay close attention to the intersectionality of Latinx identities,” Arellano said, “In higher education, misinterpreted and misapplied language can leave many voices isolated and unheard.”
When asked about the expected impact of RRC’s name change, Martinez expressed her desire to help cultivate a stronger sense of community support within the university.
“We want to make sure that students, parents, and visitors who enter our space at RRC feel welcomed and accepted, regardless of where they are from. Therefore, I believe that our name should reflect our commitment to serving everyone, not just a specific group of people.”
RRC will be hosting Town Hall meetings and information sessions on its potential name change throughout Fall Quarter 2018. All events will be open to contributions from UCSD students, staff, faculty, and other affiliates.
Thi Nguyen is a Contributing Writer for The Triton.