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'Strength in numbers': Carolina Latinx Faculty Council holds first meeting

Faculty members talking and meeting each other at the Carolina Latinx Center's first faculty council meeting in the Campus Y on Friday, Apr. 8, 2022.

Sitting in a circle in the Anne Queen Lounge of the Campus Y,  UNC faculty members socialized and shared their dreams for the Latinx community on campus. 

The Carolina Latinx Faculty Council held its first official meeting on April 8. Created within the Carolina Latinx Center, the council consists of faculty from a wide array of disciplines, with a shared goal of bringing awareness and fellowship to the Latinx community at the University. 

“I came here because I want Latinx faculty to have a voice, and so I think there’s strength in numbers, and I think we can come together,” said Ariana Vigil, a member of the executive board and professor of women’s and gender studies. “I know a lot of us are advocating in our individual units, but I think we can work together.”

The idea for the Carolina Latinx Center began around a decade ago, with the center eventually becoming a physical space in 2019. Paul Cuadros, vice chairperson of the executive board and associate professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, said the council was always part of the larger plan.

The Latinx community is one of the fastest growing student populations not only on UNC’s campus, but also at the state public school level. Cuadros said this is a crucial time to start building awareness of the community. 

“We know that we're going to see a larger presence of Latinx students on campus," Cuadros said in an interview with The Daily Tar Heel. "We want the faculty to be in place to be able to receive them and to teach them.”

The council's goals include addressing issues and concerns that the Latinx community faces on campus, recognizing Latinx faculty in their achievements and contributions, and being a sounding board to the Carolina Latinx Center. 

“We’ve wanted to do something like this in the past, so now with it being under the Latinx Center at UNC, it gives it a home,” CLC Director Josmell Perez said prior to the meeting. 

The council also aims to provide mentorship on promotion and tenure for Latinx faculty. The subtotal of Latinx faculty tenure track and tenured professors at UNC was less than 5 percent in 2018, according to the most recent data from UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. 

María DeGuzmán, chairperson of the executive board and Eugene H. Falk Distinguished Professor of English & Comparative Literature, said data like this shows the significance of having a Carolina Latinx Faculty Council at the University.

“I doubt that it’s very much more at this stage," DeGuzmán said. "So, this is a very basic fact for why it is so important to have a council like this."

Beyond achieving its goal of supporting existing programs and speaking out for the Latinx community, Vigil said the council hopes to work with the Carolina Black Caucus, as well as other groups and community and academic engagement centers on campus.

She added that the council provides a more organized way to help advance work on the UNC Roadmap for Racial Equity, a written plan proposed in 2020 for action to promote equity for all.

The council holds two meetings every semester and hopes to continuously grow its number of faculty, as well as its presence on campus.

“That's been a dream of ours that's been able to be realized,” Cuadros said.  |

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