Andrew Mendez translated and contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: Since the publication of the Spanish version of the story, there has been content added, edited and translated.
The University of Nevada, Reno, has implemented two new Living Learning Communities for students identifying as Latinx or are a part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ community for the 2019-2020 academic school year.
The LLCs will be a part of the Nevada Living Learning Community residence hall and will be in separate wings of the residence hall.
Students wishing to live in the communities must meet standards set in place by the LLC. The Latinx wing requires that students seek degrees or specializations in Spanish, be a recipient of the Hispanic Gateway Scholarship or are interested in participating in the Hispanic Gateway Program.
Students who live in the LGBTQ+ wing are students who identify as being part of students of the LGBT+ community or are allies. Those living in the wing will partake in special courses geared towards LGBT+ identities and history.
The planning and creation of the new LLCs has been in the works since the spring 2018 semester, according to Peter Gatto, deputy director of the LLC. Gatto added one hope for this project is that it will give first-year and first-generation students the opportunity to continue developing their identities.
“It is necessary to create objectives, teaching partners must be established along with content, courses, sections and programming,” said Gatto. “After all this has been established, then we can share the information with future students.”
Gatto added he defines the university as a microorganism of the world with many different cultures and ideas cultivating in a single society.
Residential Life has collaborated on the project with Director of the Gender, Race and Identity studies program and associate professor of English Dr. Jennifer Hill and residential education coordinator Angie Bradley. According to Gatto, Hill helped identify, develop the theme and course of the Latinx LLC.
Students living in the wing will learn about Latinx cultures and collaborate with others on cultural expression and ideas on a daily basis as an effort to increase and sustain diversity at the university.
Guadalupe Del Castillo, former housing operations manager, said providing a sense of a home away from home is an important goal for the Latinx LLC for first-generation Latinos who attend college. Additionally, Del Castillo explained that the diversity initiative has been at the top of the priorities of the University faculty.
“We are all equal in our values and morals, and yet we are all diverse in our customs and that’s fine,” said Del Castillo, “[The new LLC is] an impressive way to shine the light in the Latinx community.”
The Latinx LLC, as well as other projects, will give students living in the LLC the opportunity to be surrounded by a multitude of cultures, according to Del Castillo.
According to the university’s Fast Facts, as of Feb. 25, Latinx students make up 19.5 percent of the total student population. Additionally, 77.5 percent of first-year Latinx students were retained from the 2017-2018 academic school year, according to The Center. Every Student. Every Story’s 2018 Annual Report.
The LLC is also in the early stages of establishing and creating an indigenous community that will be announced in the fall of 2020.
Andrew Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.