Andrea Wilkinson/Nevada Sagebrush
The Latino Research Center sign hangs in Edmund J. Cain Hall room 100 on Fe. 6. The College of Liberal Arts’ GRI department will be offering a latinx minor next fall.

The University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Liberal Arts’ Gender, Race and Identity department will offer a Latinx minor starting in the fall semester of the 2019-2020 school year.

Director of the GRI department Dr. Jennifer Hill explained the minor will focus on Latinx history, culture and politics and how these individuals play a vital role in the country.

“Understanding any population better— their contributions, their needs [and] their specific issues —helps everybody, ” Dr. Hill said. “As the U.S. evolves and changes universities have to be responsive super to that and try to understand who we are now in the U.S.”

Currently, students can take a major or minor in Ethnic studies within the GRI department and have an informal focus in Latino Studies or take Latin American Studies Minor.

Students taking an Ethnic Studies minor have the option of taking an informal focus in Native America, Latino, African Diaspora and Asian studies.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, Latinx is defined by a person of Latin origin or descent. The word is also an inclusive term for non-binary or gender-neutral individuals to use in the primarily masculine and feminine context of words in Spanish.

Dr. Hill added that the minor was considered because a large number of students minoring in ethnic studies are taking an informal focus in Latino Studies.

“Although it’s interdisciplinary in scope, Latinx studies has a long history as a discipline,” Dr. Hill said. “Either as Latino/Latina Studies or as Chicano/Chicana studies; even older beyond that, Hispanic studies or Hispano Iberian studies. Here we are not going to have, yet, a department of Latinx studies because … it’s a response to [professors] who are here doing this work already. ”

According to Statistical Atlas, as of September 2018, Reno’s second largest racial and ethnic population make up was 24.7 percent of individuals who identify as Hispanic or Latino. Consequently, as of fall 2017, 19.23 percent of the university’s second largest racial makeup was of students who identify as Hispanic or Latino.

The Pew Research Center stated in 2016, the Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 18 percent of the total United States population and was the second largest racial-ethnic group behind white individuals. As of 2016 Hispanics and Latinos accounted for 58 million individuals in the US.

Universities across the country have included a Latino Studies minor and major, including New York University, Emerson College and University of California Santa Cruz.  Despite it being fairly new to the university, Dr. Hill said the faculty teaching the courses will cause the university’s program to stand out from the rest.

Courses would be offered from the English, GRI, Spanish, journalism, communications and history departments, as the program is interdisciplinary. Students will also have the option to substitute courses to meet requirements based on studies already done if approved by the GRI department.

The course will allow students to conduct research with the Latino Research Center as well as provide research opportunities outside of the university.

Dr. Hill hopes to eventually make a Latinx major offered to all students at the university.

Andrew Mendez can be reached at andrewmendez@sagebrush.unr.edu on on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.