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Latinx thematic community to focus on connections



Moving into the second floor of Teter Quad Wissler, the Luis Dávila Latinx Thematic Community will open its doors next fall to students interested in Latin American history and culture.

The floor is open to Latinx and non-Latinx students and is a community and support network for all residents, said Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa Latino Cultural Center. The floor also helps connect the residents to other Latino resources on campus.

“The more spaces they occupy, the more they feel like they belong here,” Casillas said.

Casillas said many prospective IU Latinx families do not see a lot of diversity while walking around campus. The Latinx floor will be a testament to the resources and connections that the students will have on campus, Casillas said.

The floor is named after an IU Latin American and Latino literature professor, Dávila, who was involved with and advocated for the Latin American community on campus, according to an informational handout about the thematic community, which is simlar to a Learning Living Community, but there are no required classes. He was awarded the Distinguished Latino Faculty Award in 2008 by the Latino Alumni Association for his 30 years of achievements at the University.

Floor proposals take about 18 months to go through approval, said Denise Gowin, RPS associate director of residential life. Once a proposal is submitted, it goes through the Academic Programs Committee and Campus Housing Advisory Committee before going into the RPS system for marketing and publicity.

Though this seems like a long time, Casillas said it is appropriate for all the research and planning that goes into creating a floor. After Casilas asked a graduate student to write up the proposal they both led focus groups and researched similar communities at other universities, Casillas said.

The floor offers students a community and highlights the University’s commitment to diversity, Casillas said.

“As the country diversifies themselves, I want to help create those spaces for everyone,” she said.

The floor has direct connections with La Casa, Latino studies, Latino Faculty and Staff Council, Latino Alumni Association, and various other student organizations, Casillas said. This will provide the floor residents the opportunity to become some of the most informed students on campus about Latino resources.

Gowin stressed how a living-learning center or thematic community can bring students together and make them feel at home.

“As you make your transition to college, those kinds of communities really help you with that experience,” Gowin said. “It gives you a support network. In a lot of instances it gives you academic connections you wouldn’t have otherwise. It provides you with opportunities that would be unique and distinct.”

Casillas said this floor is only a fraction of Latinx students, but she hopes the resources they have on campus will open them up to a more connected college 
experience.

“You feel like you have place where you can be at home where people understand your identity or want to learn more about it and share that with others,” Gowin said.

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