El Centro move slated for summer 2013


USC’s El Centro Chicano, which provides programs and services to Latino/a students, is slated to be relocated this summer to the Student Union to better accommodate the organization and those it serves, according to a statement released by El Centro Chicano Director William N. Vela.

El Centro Chicano is currently located at the privately owned United University Church on 34th Street. Other university cultural and diversity organizations, such as the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center and the Asian Pacific American Student Services, are located in the Student Union on the second and fourth floors.

Ricardo Galvez | Daily Trojan

Ricardo Galvez | Daily Trojan

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Denzil Suite said the relocation is in a preliminary discussion phase but is something that administrators have discussed in the past.

“We’ve been talking about ‘Why are they all the way over there?’ for years, but this time we want to really have a good discussion and examination,” Suite said.

Suite said the possible move has been suggested because it might make more sense to have El Centro Chicano closer to all the other student affairs organizations on campus.

Though he did not give a firm reason for the relocation, Suite emphasized that funding issues are not necessarily the reason for the move.

“There are absolutely no plans to cut any funding from El Centro, at all,” Suite said. “No funding cuts, no staffing reduction, nothing like that has even been mentioned.”

Suite acknowledged that though the United University Church is a “historical artifact” on campus, the recent construction of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center has created expanded the opportunities for the university’s cultural organizations to work together more closely.

“[El Centro Chicano] works with the other groups on campus to offer a wide spate of understanding of what it means to be a person of color in this ever-changing, diverse Los Angeles and world,” Suite said.

The organization was established in 1972. Suite said its goal for the past four decades has been to provide educational outreach and support to students of Latino heritage through programs that raise cultural awareness and growth.

“The organization is the cultural and programmatic arm for Chicano and Latino students,” Suite said.

The organization offers services to Latino students to learn more about their cultural heritage. There is a Latino floor residential program located in Fluor Tower for first-year students.

In addition to supporting academic programs and services such as the Latino Honor Society, El Centro Chicano works to promote awareness of Latino issues within the community. The organization offers many programs aimed at fulfilling this goal, such as the Latino Speaker Series, in which prominent Latino leaders from many professional fields speak to students in an effort to inspire and educate the next generation of Latino leaders.

Suite recognized the importance of fostering diversity through cultural centers.

“Students today don’t come for just one thing even if they are Latino,” Suite said. “[Students] want to explore other options and services available at the university.”

The center and its possible relocation provides an additional opportunity for students to connect with one another through culture and experience.

“The possibility of El Centro Chicano’s relocation is an opportunity to say we can make that happen by bringing them [the organizations] closer together,” Suite said.

  • Tomas Troyano

    After 40 years, how will this move support Chicano/Latino students? or the community? Where is the discussion and the data supporting such a move? and more importantly, how does this fit into USC’s more long-term goals of increasing Latino enrollment and retention? ECC was started by students, & the first time ECC was moved from its OWN building (which was demolished) to ONE FLOOR, the church was suppose to have been temporary until a better location could be found. Thirty-two years later its still there and now it is understood that the church as an independently run building, turned out to be an ideal location for student/parent/community programs. After over 3 decades of services in it’s current location, El Centro Chicano provides a unique intellectual/cultural space that has allows for the student community to ENGAGE not just with other campus students groups and resources but with the larger community in general. Could we say that a move to Student Union will facilitate the same functions the church has provided . Now the university wants to move ECC to smaller offices in Student Union, less space, less opportunity, instead of RETURNING the space that was lost when El Centro was “temporarily” relocated… and for the the “given” reasons of moving the center closer to other groups? El Centro Chicano already does that and it would only hinder it’s ability to continue to do so….. these “plans” to move ECC makes me question the motives that the University has in regards to it’s commitment to Chican@/Latin@ students and community.

  • Arosa

    The fact that USC states that El Centro Chicano is “too far” from student Union and other students, is ridiculous. How is it being 3 min away from Student Union considered to be too “far”? Its on campus, with a huge banner at the front labeled “El Centro Chicano.” It is known, trust me. Not only that, El centro Chicano already connects with all other cultural centers. Yet, relocating them wont make that difference since its already been done and will continue that way. It has been at the University Church for 33 Years and has not failed to attend any student or limited access to only simply Latino students. It is open to everyone and has become a home, a sanctuary to all of those who benefit from its resources.Relocating El Centro is taking away its history and cornering it to a small tight room, clustering all multi-cultural centers into one tight building. Why sweep us under the rug? In fact, I believe that all cultural centers should have their own floors! Its just USC ways of cornering its minority to one small tight spot. As a student, I refuse that USC relocates this center. Most might believe its not a big deal but trust me, it is. It affects us students in various ways who utilize the centers space for events, meetings, studying and etc. I refuse to let USC take away El Centro Chicano’s history and push its minorities into one tight corner of a space and label it the “multi-cultural Center” with one voice.

    Si Se Puede! Fight On!

  • mamartinez

    To me, having El Centro at the church makes it a sanctuary, similar to the spaces of the Sanctuary movement–a dedicated and safe, protected space for community and dissent, rather than one that can be too-easily controlled, co-opted, or manipulated by the university. I would love to see it stay at its current location, not as simply out of habit, or even a nod to history (which is important), but as a statement about the present and future of our culture and our organizing. That said, I can see why some would prefer to move it. We will go on, either way, of course. Though it remains to be seen what may happen to our voice if we are put in a university owned and operated space. Well, our voice and our cojones.

    Con cariño, que viva…