Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month at SJSU

Dear San José State campus community,

Latinx Heritage Month, historically known as National Hispanic Heritage Month, is celebrated throughout the United States between September 15 and October 15. Several dates this month mark anniversaries of independence for Latin American countries – including Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua – which is why Latinx Heritage Month begins in mid-September. This history serves as a good reminder of the vast diversity of our Latinx community.

As a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), San José State University celebrates and honors the cultural traditions, history, contributions, and values of our Chicanx/Latinx/Latiné students, staff, faculty and local communities.

As we do so, we should also acknowledge and remember the widespread suffering and devastation we’re seeing in Florida, Puerto Rico, Cuba and those who are recovering from devastating flooding and impacts of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian. Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) will issue a campus message later today that touches on these and other recent global and local events, and the impact they are having on our local, national and global communities.

Being an HSI institution means that, at a minimum, our student population is at least 25% of what the U.S. government identifies as Hispanic. However, SJSU also has a significant population of Chicanx/Latinx/Latiné employees with some families with multiple generations of staff members who have made their careers here. Many of our Chicanx/Latinx/Latiné alums are among the ranks of leaders in government, community-based organizations and business sectors. 

Our campus has a longstanding Chicanx/Latinx/Latiné history with several institutions and programs established through the hard-won activism of students, staff, faculty and community members. 

Chicana/Chicano Studies (CCS), Chicano Commencement and Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association (CLFSA), for example, are institutions that have had a history and presence on our campus for over 50 years. In fact, Lupe and Ramiro Compean, for whom the Díaz Compean Student Union is named, were moved to donate to and support our university after learning about our excellent Mexican American Studies department (now known as CCS). CCS, we are proud to say, offers the longest-running master’s program in the western United States, while CLFSA established the Dr. Ernesto Galarza Scholarship in the early 1980s to address barriers students face in their pursuit of higher education.

Centro, a Chicanx/Latinx student success center with comprehensive programming, outreach and community building, serves as an anchor on our campus. Our UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center serves undocumented students, many of whom are Chicanx/Latinx/Latiné. We have developed a HSI framework, Somos SJSU, to guide our campus work reflecting the knowledge, strengths, and values that foster community in academic excellence. 

Though institutionalized today, the history of activism, demands for campus accountability, and the self-starting leadership that established these initiatives over the decades need to be recognized. 

Latinx Heritage Month is also a time to reflect on the incredible day-to-day work, care, and leadership of our students, staff, faculty, families and community members who are key to the success of our students. 

Latinx Heritage Month banner

Regardless of whether one identifies as Latinx or not, Latinx Heritage Month offers a great opportunity to reflect on what it means to work at a HSI. A calendar of Latinx Heritage Month activities is available with programs running through mid October, and I encourage all members of our campus community to attend an event, seek learning opportunities and consider how you can incorporate our role as an HSI institution into your day-to-day work.

Thank you, everybody, for all you do as members of the San José State campus community.

Take care,

Steve Perez
Interim President