The Latino Research Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, is currently in the process of reestablishing itself after former Director Emma Sepulveda resigned from her position on April 11, 2018, and former Assistant Director Iris West resigned on August 30, 2017.
The LRC is currently run by four members of the Steering Committee and Juan Diego Zarazúa. Zarazúa was hired in late December 2018 as the Coordinator of Education, Research and Outreach. The committee and Zarazúa hope to provide better resources and support for Latinx students on campus as well as provide better support for students reliant on DACA.
According to Associate Professor and a member of the Steering Committee Jafeth Sanchez, Zarazúa will be in charge of program development, grant writing, outreach and Latinx initiatives. Zarazúa will also be in charge of event planning to better include the Latino community.
Sanchez said the current plan for the LRC is to strengthen and continue initiatives that were already in motion before West and Sepulveda resigned.
“… we (the Steering Committee of the LRC) have provided funding support for keynote speakers on campus, such as to bring Maria Hinojosa to our university,” Sanchez said in an email to the Nevada Sagebrush. “We have hosted the Cafecito and Pan, a Friday morning event that is organized by Alianza, and we maintained a successful partnership and collaboration with the Center, Every Student, Every Story by supporting the Latino Graduation Celebration, funding the guest speaker, and sponsoring key aspects of the event.”
With initiatives already in place before West and Sepulveda resigned, West told the Nevada Sagebrush in May of 2018 that the University was not prioritizing diversity efforts with the Latinx community and was not supportive of the LRC. Despite allegations made by West, member of the Steering Committee Robert Gutierrez-Perez said the university has been nothing but supportive of the LRC and efforts made by the steering committee.
“The LRC has a great budget and support from the university,” Dr. Gutierrez-Perez said. “Last year a group of students and faculty met with university officials to guarantee the LRC would have funds to provide resources to students.”
Gutierrez-Perez added he has yet to see the LRC be underfunded, contradictory to allegations made by West.
Sanchez added the LRC had been remodeled over the summer.
“The LRC also got quite a remodel over Summer 2018, with new carpeting, paint, and furniture as part of the efforts to revamp the LRC – we are very excited to see this physical transformation supporting all other transformations to come,” Sanchez said.
With having a close connection to The Center, employees at the LRC can now direct DACA recipients to Social Service Coordinator Jahahi Mazariego.
Mazariego was hired in May of 2018 to be a resource to students who are DACA recipients or are undocumented. Mazariego helps answer questions and provides resources to students on what the university can and cannot do in their cases; as well as directs them to resources off of campus.
Gutierrez-Perez said he hopes the LRC can be a safe space to all students, not just those of the Hispanic/Latino community.
“Before, the LRC used to have committees for the local community and students and faculty, and these committees helped the LRC,” Gutierrez-Perez said. “I hope the LRC can be a hub for Reno and all of Northern Nevada.”
The LRC is located in Edmund J. Cain Hall room 100 and will begin looking for a new director to take over in the Fall.
Andrew Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.