How long has the Chican@ & Latin@ Studies Program been at the UW?
The founding of the Chican@ & Latin@ Studies Program at UW–Madison was the answer to a call from student activists in the 1970s. Students began picketing for the department in April 1974 and by 1975 had organized La Raza Unida Party to petition for the department’s creation. In 1976, the program was established in the School of Education under the name Chicano Studies, with an initial focus on student recruitment and retention. In 1988, the program moved to the College of Letters & Science. By 1992, the program saw the creation of a Chicano studies certificate, the first certificate in an ethnic studies program at the UW. A decade later, the name of the program was changed to Chicana/o Studies, and in 2005, it was renamed yet again to its present Chican@ & Latin@ Studies (CLS). Over the course of its 44 years, the program’s leadership has changed hands a number of times; one program administrator — Sylvia Garcia ’75, who served from 2008 to 2016 — was among the students that picketed for the department’s creation in 1974. Today, the department offers both a certificate and a doctoral minor, in addition to a number of courses ranging from history and geography to literature and political science that students can take to fulfill their ethnic studies requirement — or because they’re just so dang fascinating. The department also boasts an affiliated student organization, Chican@ & Latin@ Certificate Student Association (ChiLaCSA), which has contributed to the organization of some of this month’s Latinx Heritage Month virtual events! According to the Latinx Cultural Center, this year’s program aims “to recognize the roots of our complex and growing history” through its theme of “Connecting our Roots.”