Central American Network petitions for name change of El Centro Chicano

In effort to make El Centro Chicano more inclusive, the Central American Network at USC started a petition Monday to modify the Latinx resource center’s name.

The term “Chicano” refers to people of Mexican descent who live in the United States. For this reason, the Central American Network believes it does not encompass all Latinx student identities that are a part of the organization at USC. Photo from El Centro Chicano.

CAN at USC’s petition asks that “Chicano” be removed from the organization’s title in order to encompass the variety of cultural identities within the Latinx community that do not fall under that term.

“We’ve seen the changes that other organizations have made at USC, including the Latino Student Assembly changing their name to Latinx,” Nathalye Lopez, co-president of CAN at USC said. “There are so many students who don’t identify with Chicano, including Latin American students.”

Lopez said that CAN at USC had been planning to start this petition since last year, but finalized it with the organization’s leaders during a retreat this January. She also said that the club has met with Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano, in the past about the upcoming petition.

At the time of publication, the petition had reached around 150 signatures, according to Lopez.

The term “Chicano” was originally used to describe people in the United States of Mexican descent. Many Mexican-Americans took pride in the term after the Chicano movement, which helped end ethnic stereotypes and foster solidarity, according to the petition.

El Centro Chicano has previously acknowledged the debate regarding the name. In their 2012 handbook, they mention that the name Chicano has never been universally accepted by mainstream society or the Latino community. The name remains “in tension with other identity labels for reasons connected to different views on assimilation and acculturation in the U.S.,” the handbook read.

Grecia Vega, a junior studying economics who is involved with El Centro Chicano, found the potential name change appropriate for the sake of inclusivity. Vega said that her and other students involved with El Centro Chicano have supported the petition.

“The students at El Centro are very involved,” Vega said. “I could imagine it came from a place of progress and the need for unity in the Latino community. Sometimes its title doesn’t mean well and drives its community apart.”

The petition explains that the center was formed at USC in order to foster “the principles of the Chicano Movement: inclusion, pride, and democracy.”

“This is not in an effort to attack or diminish the Chicano culture or movement, rather a method to add diversity and inclusiveness to what and who El Centro Chicano represents,” the petition stated.

The petition is still in circulation. Vela did not immediately respond to requests for comment.