Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month

September 18, 2023

Dear campus community,

September 15 marked the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month — a time to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments and unique contributions, cultures, and histories of this diverse community of more than 63.7 million across the United States. At Berkeley, 19.6% of undergraduate students and 9.5 of graduate students identify as Latinx, as well as 17.8% of our staff and 7.4% of our ladder faculty and Lecturers with Security of Employment (LSOE). The month-long celebration, which began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year. 

As we begin to think about the community’s contributions, we must first acknowledge the conversations around the use of multiple “umbrella” terms, such as Hispanic, Chicano/Chicana, or Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latine, and the many intersectional identifying terms people embrace, whether racial identities or signifiers, such as first-generation or undocumented/documented. We respect and appreciate how community members choose to self-identify. While we use the broader term Latinx for this message, we are mindful both of the shared histories of inequities Latinx communities have endured, as well as the historical, raciolinguistic, social and educational variance and specificities experienced by Latinx peoples.

Latinx history on campus

UC Berkeley has had a long history of Latinx engagement and activism, from developing the Department of Ethnic Studies in 1969 to our current goal of achieving a federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by increasing our undergraduate student body to at least 25% Latinx by 2027.

We’re very excited about the growth of multiple groundbreaking research and community centers, including the Latinx Research Center and the Latinx Student Resource Center, along with innovative initiatives like Latinxs and the Environment and the ambitious goal to create an institutionalized Latinx research hub.

Recognizing we have work to do to enroll, retain, and educate Latinx students, this effort has evolved into the more comprehensive Latinx Thriving Initiatives. Our priorities include ensuring students, along with staff, faculty, and alumni, feel a sense of belonging, serving more first-generation, low-income, and historically underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students, and committing to being an anti-racist campus.  

Becoming a Latinx Thriving Institution

In May 2019, Chancellor Christ charged us all with the goal of becoming a Latinx Thriving Institution—a place where every Latinx community member thrives. Since then, the Latinx Thriving Initiatives (LTI) have been actively collaborating with other Thriving Initiatives to build upon existing spaces and co-create spaces where all community members—students, staff, and faculty—feel a sense of community and belonging across campus. We invite you to learn about our progress in this highlight video. Please stay informed about our efforts centered in equity-based and anti-oppressive values by completing this form

New Latinx faculty

These new faculty members represent just a portion of the talented Latinx individuals who have recently joined Berkeley, contributing their diverse expertise and perspectives to our academic community. Gina Garcia, having recently joined the School of Education, studies organizational change to understand historical and structural barriers to disrupting inequities, as well as to support educational thriving for minoritized students. The School of Public Health welcomed Jenny Guadamuz, who focuses on identifying structural determinants in the use of healthcare, and David J.X. González, who focuses on how extractive industries and climate-driven disasters impact public health and lead to health disparities. The Department of Music welcomed Juan David Rubio Restrepo, who specializes in Latin American and experimental musics. Verónica Gómez Sánchez joined the Department of Philosophy where she focuses on metaphysics of science and philosophy of cognitive science.

Get involved

UC Berkeley has more than 40 Latinx student organizations, such as the Graduate Association of Latinx Students (GALS) and the Latinx Caucus, as well as programs that meet the unique needs of the Latinx community such as Chicanx Latinx Student Development, the Raíces Center Recruitment and Retention Center, the Undocumented Student Program (USP) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). The Alianza Staff Organization is committed to community building, professional development, and promotion of Chicanx/Latinx staff at UC Berkeley.

Latinx Heritage Month events

We are excited about the many celebratory events this month, including the Welcome Back reception (Sept. 15), the ASUC Heritage Event (Sept. 22), the Cal Football Game dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Day (Sept. 30), and the Alianza Latinx Staff Awards ceremony (Oct. 12, nominations due Sept. 29). More events can be found on the Equity & Inclusion website.

This CalMessage was written in partnership and consultation with Lupe Gallegos-Diaz, Kris D. Gutierrez, and Liliana Iglesias. Their caring leadership is what makes UC Berkeley a place where students, staff, and faculty can thrive.

In community,

Dania Matos
Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion

Stephen C. Sutton
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Lupe Gallegos-Diaz
Director, Chicanx Latinx Academic Student Development Center
Centers for Educational Justice & Community Engagement

Kris D. Gutierrez
Co-chair of the HSI Task Force and the Latinx-Thriving Institution Initiative

Victoria Plaut
Vice Provost for the Faculty

Eugene Whitlock
Associate Vice Chancellor for People & Culture

To help create an environment that lives up to our Principles of Community, we will send regular messages to acknowledge various heritage months and holidays. While we won't include every month or holiday, we will make an effort to ensure members of our community feel represented. Additionally, news.berkeley.edu will often post articles highlighting people, programs, and research that align with these heritage months and holidays. 

This message was sent to all staff, faculty, and students.

If you are a manager who supervises UC Berkeley employees without email access, please circulate this information to all.