Chicano Studies opens exhibit at Wilson Library

On the cusp of being around for four decades, the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Department of Chicano Studies is one seldom talked about. Now, it will be put out for the campus to see. Thursday marked an attempt to put the department in the spotlight as University Libraries opened an exhibit to display Chicano Studies research materials at Wilson Library. Chicano studies librarian Rafael Tarrago , who has been the exhibitâÄôs primary coordinator, said the purpose is simply to highlight Chicano studies research at the University, featuring department staff members Guillermo Rojas and current department chair Eden Torres . Tarrago said courses within Chicano Studies average around 20 students, which he said shows an interest in the student body. âÄúThat sort of validates what weâÄôre doing,âÄù he said. For students who possess that interest, such as political science sophomore Fatima Garcia , it can be tough trying to unearth information in the field of Chicano Studies, so TarragoâÄôs expertise in the library research can be helpful. Garcia said she didnâÄôt know much about Chicanos in the United States before she started taking classes in the department and was only aware about the achievements of Mexican Chicanos. Having moved back to the United States when she was 6 years old after being raised in Mexico, Garcia said there is a âÄúgreat divideâÄù between Mexican Chicanos and American Chicanos, citing the way they experience the different cultures. This difference, she said, is why she registered for courses in the department. âÄúIâÄôm really proud of where I come from,âÄù she said. âÄúI grew up in a large Latina population.âÄù Vice President and Vice Provost in the Office for Equity and Diversity Dr. Nancy âÄòRustyâÄô Barcelo , the keynote speaker at ThursdayâÄôs opening reception, was the Chicano studies department chair from 2000 to 2001 and taught courses in the department prior to that. She said the Chicano population is rapidly growing in the United States, and with that growth, support programs such as Casa Sol, a learning community for first-year students, have been formed âÄî which Barcelo said has led to the collegiate success of many Chicano students. âÄúIt gives the students a strong sense of self,âÄù Barcelo said. Despite the departmentâÄôs growth, Barcelo said there are still concerns. Due to a lack of funding, Barcelo said there isnâÄôt a graduate program for Chicano studies, even though some students have opted to take graduate coursework in the Department of American Studies with an emphasis in Chicano studies. Desiree Abu-Odeh , a neurological science junior, said she is glad to see exposure for Chicano studies. âÄúItâÄôs great, the fact that there are resources on campus to learn about a different culture in an academic setting,âÄù she said of the new library exhibit. âÄúItâÄôs hard to hear about it from experience if youâÄôre not a part of that culture.âÄù Barcelo said the new library display will be a âÄúnice opportunity to reflect on the past and look to the future.âÄù