Members of the Latinx Leadership Forum (LLF) announced that Casa Latina will open its doors in fall 2016 and explained the application process for its inaugural residents at a dinner on Dec. 1. The house, which will be located next to the Black House on 36th Street, aims to provide a space for dialogue and discussion of issues affecting the Latino community, according to Luiggy Vidal (COL ‘18), LLF facilitator.
“Essentially, we’re trying to make the space a locus of diversity,” he said. “We’ve instilled intersectionality within the foundation of the house.”
LLF proposed the development of Casa Latina last spring, at the same time as the Last Campaign for Academic Reform (LCAR), which led to the successful implementation of a diversity requirement for undergraduate students. A Casa Latina Working Group was formed in May following the joint sit-in with LCAR, and LLF members worked with administrators and the Office of Residential Living over the summer and fall semester to develop plans for the house.
“The students have been really excited and really engaged,” said Katie Heather, Associate Director of Residential Living. “A lot is due to student activism and interest. Students say, this is a need, this is where we’re engaged, and they get us on board to connect them with what they need,” she said.
Casa Latina will be home to five residents, each with a specific role ranging from Resident Director to Academic Coordinator. It is open to all sophomores, juniors and seniors who will not be studying abroad during the academic year.
According to LLF Media and Outreach Chair Josue Coronado (COL ‘18), residents will organize networking opportunities and events including dialogues to study nights, as well as a peer mentorship program. Upperclassmen will be matched with freshmen and sophomores to serve as mentors “who look like them, who’ve had similar struggles and similar narratives,” he said.
Students of Color Alliance (SOCA) Co-Chair Xiomara Salazar (SFS ‘18) said she is looking forward to the house bringing different members of the Latino community together. “There’s such a diverse array of cultures [in the Latino community], it will be interesting to see how we connect.”
“It can definitely be a bridge,” said Briseida Valencia Soto (COL ‘18). She also said she hopes the space can serve as a social gathering place for all who students who appreciate Latino culture. “It’s about bringing more culture to Georgetown.”
Casa Latina will also provide leadership opportunities for its residents, who will play a large part in shaping its activities and roles on campus, especially in its first year.
“It’s about putting your passion into a project,” Coronado said.
Residents will be selected by a panel that will include representatives from LLF, CMEA and Residential Living, and will be available on Dec. 11.