Cool, I’m Latino and in college — now what?

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As y’all may already know, the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) is one of four UC campuses who has been recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), which is only given to colleges and universities where Latinos account for a large portion of the student body. One-quarter of UCSB is Latino, twice more than a few decades ago — that deserves a round of applause, yes, but definitely not the hashtag, #diversity. At least not yet.

More Latinos in college? Hell yeah, I’m for it. But simply having Latinos there is not enough. Latinos — myself included — are not tokens, nor some award sticker to slap on a brochure. Getting there is a huge accomplishment, but what I’m more concerned about is the services that colleges and universities offer Latino students, besides recruitment…

I graduated from UCLA, which is not one of the HSIs — and speaking from my Latino student experience, I don’t see it becoming one anytime soon. When I first transferred in from community college in 2012, the Latino student population was just above 10%. It was a huge culture shock.

A bigger slap in the face was how unwelcome I felt. Professors saying racist things was an everyday occurrence. Most white classmates just couldn’t begin to understand my perspectives, experiences, and writings. It sucked — and I wanted to leave. I couldn’t even talk about it because most non-professor faculty members were seemingly color-blind or didn’t know how to address such issues.

Does HSI consider Latino retention? I promise I’ll follow-up with that.

Most services offered for UCLA Latino students are created by Latino students with minimal campus funding. UCLA forgets inclusion in its pursuit to be prestigious. Diversity is not true. And one thing that irks me is how so many student campus organizations serve Latino neighborhoods, but on campus Latinos don’t receive that kind of care.

Hispanic-Serving Institution. What about the family? The student’s support system? What services do colleges and universities offer them. UCLA neglects Latino, Spanish-speaking parents every year on Parents’ Weekend.

Again, Latinos in college is an accomplishment. But, it is not enough — so don’t get too high. Services are needed. Services are needed. Services are needed.

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