Creation of Casa Latina would provide space for Latino students

Georgetown University is currently exploring the possibility of adding a permanent Latino House called Casa Latina to residential life on campus and is eager to institute this space for this coming Fall 2015.

This endeavor has emerged from a growing voice of Latino Hoyas who believe that a physical space dedicated to Latino issues and dialogue is needed for the success of that respective student community here at the University.

The Black House at Georgetown, currently located at one of the yellow painted houses on 36th Street, was founded about 40 years ago. It began as a safe space for black students at Georgetown to talk about their identity, and the challenges they face, on campus.

Now, the space is under the direction and support of the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access (CMEA) and still seeks to provide support for the black community at Georgetown.

In recent years, however, the Black House has expanded to provide support for more than just black students. The mission of the House is “To assess and meet the needs of students of color by implementing programs, events, and dialogue in a community-centered space.”

Although the Black House has always sought to provide a safe space for any Georgetown student, over the years, its focus has shifted from black students to all students of color. This is reflected in the staff of the Black House: three of the residents are black and two of the residents are Latino.

While many black and Latino students on campus believe that all people of color face some similar issues and that intergroup dialogue is paramount, many also feel that both groups of students can be better supported through different spaces. Another concern is that because the Black House has expanded its mission to all people of color, its resources are simply becoming stretched thin.

Some students also feel that the tone the university sets by lumping all people of color together into one space is off-putting. Nancy Hinojos (SFS ’15), the current Resident Director of the Black House, told Vox that by only providing one space for all students of color, it sends the message that the university is saying, ‘You are all similar because you are all a minority’.

Seeing that the Black House maintains its success as a safe space for black students is tied to the anticipated creation, and success, of Casa Latina. “Having a hotspot for minorities is so crucial,” she said. “There has to be a space for those who don’t fit Jane & Joe Hoya to explore their identity.”

Hinojos is also excited that the proposed space for Casa Latina is right next door to the Black House because even if a separate space for Hispanic students and black students will be created, their close proximity can allow the two houses to use each other for support and combined events.

Photo: Georgetown Latino Leadership Forum via Facebook

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