El Centro Chicano was renamed La CASA after Latinx students petitioned last spring for a more inclusive name. The change was announced Wednesday by Student Affairs and will officially go into effect in Fall 2019.
La CASA, which means “the home” in Spanish, stands for Latinx Chicanx Center for Advocacy and Student Affairs. The name was suggested last April during a town hall hosted by USC Latinx organizations about the potential name change.
“We understand the history of the center and why it was founded, and we want to respect that,” El Centro Chicano director Billy Vela told USC News. “The Chicano name remains, and we want to build on that. The community has grown and now includes many different voices. Our current students want to be heard and want to be identified.”
The new name was selected through collaboration between El Centro Chicano, Central American Network, Latinx Student Assembly and Latino/a Graduate Student Association.
“The core group took all perspectives into consideration and sought to find balance between the legacy established by the founders of El Centro Chicano while also affirming the diversity of the Latinx Diaspora it currently represents,” a press release from Student Affairs read.
In Spring 2018, El Centro Chicano held conversations about the potential name change where students, faculty and alumni gave their input on why the change was necessary and on what their expectations would be for the new name. These conversations took place after the Central American Network released a petition in February 2018 calling for further inclusivity and for the cultural center to drop the term “Chicano.” Nearly 300 students signed it.
“The [new] name is the most inclusive term we could use,” graduate student Lenora Quiñónez told USC News. “We didn’t want to step on any toes.”
The term Chicano has typically been used to exclusively refer to Mexican Americans, especially in the 1960s during the Chicano movement, which advocated for Mexican American civil rights.
“Chicano is a history that cannot be forgotten,” LGSA president Jose Richard Avices told USC News. “We are not removing Chicano. This is more of an addition.”