On Wednesday, members of the Latinx Student Alliance organization at Lehman College in the Bronx sent a letter to the Dean of the English Department demanding more diversity in the curriculum. The students wrote, “There is a great desire and necessity across Lehman College’s student body to see themselves in their classes, to see themselves as possible authors of their own texts.” According to College Factual, about 56.1 percent of the student body at Lehman identifies as Hispanic or Latino.
“[The make-up of Lehman college’s student body] is not represented in the full-time faculty… I am the first Latino tenure track faculty in my department. There is no African American tenure track faculty in my department,” said Dr. Melissa Castillo Planas, the faculty advisor for the Latinx Student Alliance, in an email.
Here is a copy of the letter courtesy of the Latinx Student Alliance:
Members of the Latinx Student Alliance sent Latino Rebels the following statement explaining why they drafted the letter:
Our club has been passionate from the beginning specifically due to the fact that Lehman College is a minority serving institution—with 53% Hispanic/Latinx and 30.3% Black/Non-Hispanic making up the undergrad student body. We thought of doing something that was student-based within the club at first, as something supplemental rather than institutional. However, it wasn’t until conversation with other club members that we realized that wouldn’t be enough, that what is taught through the institution is what is seen as what is important. Having experience in our classes, we can’t simply be dismissed as “it’s there, you just haven’t seen it.” No longer are students’ willing to sit by, be quiet and allow the heads to say that “no one is asking for this.” We are telling you what we would like to see in our education: a reflection of ourselves and of the world.
We set our goal as a club to make sure that the culture and ethnicity/race of the student body is seen and heard on campus. Previously, we thought of doing a supplemental book group to make up for the lack of diversity we saw, however LSA understands the time, money and energy that students give to academic institutions and it is understandable to expect our schools and education to grow and include a reflection of the world and break the chain of white-washing cannons. We believe that teaching one or two people of color in your curriculum is not enough to make up for academia’s history of removing colonized and minority groups from the cannon. People of color and minority groups are not meant to only be electives on a major sheet. We, as proud Lehman College students, simply want Lehman to proudly reflect its students and its borough.