The Birth of the Chicana/o Studies Department

This year is a special year for Loyola Marymount University (LMU). It is the year marking the first 100 years for LMU, so along with it there has been a lot to to celebrate centennial year. We are rediscovering our history and everything that makes us the school we stand to be today.

However as I sit in class and listen to how if it was not for student groups, like Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan (MEChA) the demand for Chicana/o Studies would not have emerged, thus the department would not have been created. As an institution founded on social justice, LMU is very lucky to not only offer a BA in Chicana/o Studies but most importantly to actually have a Chicana/o Studies department, because through this exposure and awareness to the Chicana/o  and Latina/o culture it exposes students like myself to a history that some over look while some try to erase. History that is part of the 100 years of LMU but I have not heard a strong presence among all the centennial celebrations.

With that being said, I started to wonder how did the Chicana/o Studies department evolve here at LMU and thus began my journey. As a recently declared Chicana/o Studies minor, I took it upon myself to find this out. So I have decided to not only focus my capstone project around this topic but also compose a series of blog post to share my discoveries.

I will be conducting research by collecting data from the university’s archives. This means looking at old and even historic documents following the development of the Chicana/o Studies department as well as the student involvement in this effort. I will also be looking at old school newspapers and maybe even coverage of our local newspapers like the Los Angeles times. Depending on what I might find here, I might have to conduct interviews and thus becoming like  Maylei Blackwell, an oral historian in a sense.

From all that I hope to find out how the University handled the development of the department. I also want to find out, what was the atmosphere on campus among the student body prior to the development of the department as well as the after its creation. It would be very interesting to find out who were the first professors in these courses as well as who were the first graduates from the department. It would be cool to find out what their experiences were like and what kind of hardship they faced. After learning about the departments foundation, it would be great to find out how it has survived and possibly any sort of changes planned for the future.

I can not wait to see what I find out.

Picture credit: “human 100 planking”

This is part of a longer blog series, which you can find links to the the next blog posts below. 

Read more:

Setting the Stage, Students Propose New Program, From Chicano Studies Department to Mexican-American Studies Degree ProgramCapstone Project Gone BlogSo You Want to Take Introduction to Chicana/o Studies?So Let’s Put Some of the Pieces Together


The Birth of the Chicana/o Studies Department — 9 Comments

  1. Carmen, I am looking forward to reading your series of posts and learn more about the beginnings of the Chicana/o Studies department. This is information that not many of us know about and it’s important to our community here at LMU. I’m excited for you and your project! Good luck!

  2. This sounds like a great project, it could perhaps be groundbreaking for future Chicano Studies students.

  3. Would love to read about how the Chicana/o Studies department started at LMU. If you are done with your capstone project I think you should post it, because I know I would like to read what you found out.

  4. This is really exciting! Maybe you consider posting what you have found to aztlanreads instead of the intro blog.

  5. Just like everyone else has already said, I’m excited to know what you found out! Maybe a paragraph or two at the end stating where you are in your research and what you’ve discovered, or something. It’s really cool that you actually decided to get out and do this.

  6. Have you thought of also looking into the history of Chicano Latino Student Services because it is an office that has served many latino students over the years. I remember one of the fellows went through old newspaper clippings about how students reacted to it’s formation and why it’s important. Also some students have raised the question whether CLSS is needed but maybe your research can be a tribute to the hard work and activism of our predecessors or a comment about the future for latino students on campus. There are a lot of latino students that are 3rd, 4th, etc., generation who don’t strongly identity with their culture and heritage. Good luck with your research and I can’t believe your graduating soon!

  7. Carmen this is a great piece I really enjoyed reading it. Like all the others I would love to read more about the department. There’s nothing I would really add but maybe a few more pictures the one you have is great but I would like to see more but that’s personal preference. Great Job!

  8. This is really exciting Carmen. I do think the composition of the student body would be important to this and maybe some information on how long it took to actually have this happen and what the arguments against it might have been at first.

  9. Carmen, I like the way you are setting-up your series of blogs that will speak to the research you have conducted in terms of your capstone project but I would also like to see how that has evolved and unfolded. Writing about how the Chicana/o Studies department at LMU began and still stands will be beneficial not just for us but for the rest of the LMU student body. Thanks for doing this research!