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.
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.