chapter  3
24 Pages

Youth and the Campus: Chicano Students and Chicano Education

The push for Chicano Studies and Chicano student inclusion on university campuses began in California at a historic meeting in Santa Barbara yet was a percolating movement nationwide among Chicano youth activists. While it is true that the meeting at Santa Barbara was the genesis for much of the thinking that would guide the Chicano Studies component of the Chicano Movement, the trend toward university activism was taking place nationwide and grew out of the same desire among Mexican American college students for a place within the campus-a move deeply infl uenced by the push for Black Studies on many college campuses across the United States. El Plan de Santa Bárbara (PDSB) was both a radical statement and a call for reforms within the university, meant to open it to Chicano students and connect the university to the community. 1 This sense that Chicano Studies needed to engage in action research and pedagogy for both the advancement of the individual and the community was a driving force in the national movement for Chicano Studies departments and, depending on the region, Latino or Latin American Studies departments that would include the histories of Puerto Rican and other US Latino groups. 2 The student activists used protests, sit-ins, and campus mobilization to press for the expansion of the curriculum, and often did so in partnership with other minority and New Left student groups. 3

This chapter shifts our focus to college campuses to demonstrate the transfer of activism between community and campus. As Chicano high school students across the nation walked out, protesting an educational system that failed to account for their needs, many of these students continued their activism on college campuses. At colleges and universities in California, Texas, and elsewhere, Chicano students established organizations and demanded that universities create Chicano Studies departments and open admissions to minority and nontraditional students at even the most prestigious universities. They also called for the hiring and retention of Chicano and Chicana faculty with students playing a role in hiring decisions. This push for affi rmative action for Chicano students,

faculty, and the establishment of Chicano Studies programs and departments was part of a larger effort to democratize and open the university in the 1960s. For Chicano activists, these efforts meant to establish mini-Aztláns (homelands) on college campuses and provide greater opportunities for an increasingly self-aware racial minority’s college-bound and college-educated elite.