La Casa Hispánica has historically been an off-campus community house for members of Haverford’s Latinx population. In 2020, the administration decided to sell the original La Casa. The Latinx community was dissatisfied that the College had not prioritized creating an inclusive space for its Latinx students, especially since Haverford’s partner schools, Swarthmore and Penn, provided such spaces for their Latinx communities. So, in spring 2020, the Alliance of Latin American Students (ALAS) launched a call to action to advocate for a community space. In the 2020–21 academic year, ALAS created a committee to finalize the organization of a new space.
After many rallies, letters, and meetings with administration, the community’s efforts in pushing the administration to support the third largest ethnic group at Haverford finally came to fruition with the Latinx Cultural Center, or LCC. Located at 5 College Circle, the Center came into being at the start of the 2021 academic year and has already hosted several events, especially during Latinx Heritage Month.
As Monica Mena Cordero ’24 describes, students did not resign themselves to losing the space. “After losing La Casa, we lacked a space to meet as a community. We spent years clashing with administration to obtain a new space. After this long struggle, we finally have a space, the LCC. Of course, we are planning and looking forward to upcoming community events, but it’s crucial to remember that [the] LCC represents our fight for inclusivity for Latinx and BIPOC students.”
The new LCC offers a physical space for the Latinx population to host events, hold ALAS meetings, study, or just hang out. While the primary goal is to provide a space for Latinx and BIPOC community members, the LCC is intended to provide resources to any student in need.
Anthony Carrillo ’23 hopes that the LCC will help facilitate community building not just among the Latinx community but among the BIPOC community in general.“We want the house to be a place where people can get the resources they need such as food, a kitchen, textbooks, books just to read, a place to stay in case of emergencies. I think we’re just trying to make it as accessible as possible for everyone who needs it.”
Signs posted throughout the house are meant to visualize what the space should be used for and how it can best serve the community. At one meeting, the signs were put up and members were given the opportunity to write down their thoughts to give a better sense of what the community wants the LCC to be.
Jorge Paz Reyes ’24 anticipates the ways in which the LCC can be used to continue fostering community among Latinx students: “I look forward [to] seeing the Latinx Center becoming a place for the community to get together to promote more community and create lasting changes in Haverford. I hope that the Latinx Community Center can create community by providing [students of color] a space for them to embrace their identity.”