Make Way for Pa’Lante

The Expanding Influence of Landmark College's Latest Diversity Center

January 10, 2022

Marc Thurman, before graduating from Landmark College in 2018 started a club called the Rise Up Center. The Rise Up Center is a place to hang out and not be judged by the way you look and who you are. After he graduated, he became the advisor for the club and had a couple of other students working with him.  Thurman, now the Director of Center for Diversity at Landmark, is leading the way in providing new centers that support different cultures and ethnicities that can be found throughout this campus.

In the Spring Semester of 2021 the newest center of CDI, Pa’Lante, was launched to officially become established as Landmark College’s newest cultural center. The center was first founded by fellow Landmark students Angel Cintron, Carolina Mellado and Mariana Borbon. The idea to establish this center came to be when its student founders and members of faculty noticed the lack of Latinx cultural activities on campus-and how it was important to create a safe place where fellow Latina/os can come together as well as being a place where everyone can come to learn and understand the wonders of Latinx culture.

The Pa’lante Center was founded when the realization came of the increase of students with Latinx background within the student population of Landmark campus and realizing the fact that even with this increase there wasn’t a place where they can connect with other members of their community. This realization inspired student leaders, Angel, Carolina, and Mariana to create a center where those members of this community can come to a safe place to connect with each other and to be able to learn from each other.

The US Hispanic population has grown significantly within the last decade, from 50.5 million in 2010 to 62.1 million by 2020. In the US, Hispanic college students now make up 19 percent of the student body and this is still continuing to grow.

According to a Usatoday.com report, in 2017 there were 3.27 million Hispanic students enrolled in US colleges but the number had doubled to 1.4 million in 2000.  At Landmark College Latino/Hispanic students make up 8.2 percent of the student population, according to the most recent statistics, which makes them the largest minority group on campus.

According to Marc Thurman, Faculty Coordinator for Landmark’s Center of Diversity and Inclusion, “I, like other student leaders noticed the increase of Hispanic students on campus and we felt it important to not only create a community where the culture can be celebrated and Hispanic students can connect with people from their fellow community but where the entire Landmark Community can have the opportunity to learn and explore the wonderful things about Latinx culture.”

Marc also commented on how by Pa’lante sharing its beautiful and important values about family it can maybe even help bring students and faculty of landmark closer together since in a way we are like a special family.

Also commenting on how the name of the center differs from other Latinx centers from other colleges was alumni student Angel Cintron, who until last semester was the Assistant Coordinator for the Pa’Lante center. “We wanted our center to have a unique name that represented what our center stands for within the Landmark community,” Angel stated

Though it has only been two semesters since the Pa’Lante Center came to be, it has already started to make an impact towards the community at large. “I think it is important for us to recognize all the individual cultures we have here on campus. We wanted to ensure that Hispanic students know that we see them, that we welcome them with open arms into our Landmark community to experience the wonders of the Latinx culture that brings people together, which in my opinion I find to be one of the greatest things about this particular culture.” said Marc.

It is clear how much the Pa’Lante center means to Marc, Angel, Carolina and Mariana and their mission to make Landmark college even more unique than before.

Even though Landmark College has a safe space for students to feel comfortable about themselves. It is not the only college to have a safe space on campus.

When we are hear the phrase safe space, it means a place where students can walk in and feel safe. It’s a place where other students wouldn’t make fun of their race and identity. Everyone is welcome at Landmark College and other universities.

The website Bing says that safe spaces happen in universities on the west side of the United States. “Northeastern Illinois also has an administrator dedicated to helping undocumented students. And the university’s main campus has a space called the Pedroso Center, a study space geared toward making students feel comfortable both culturally and physically,” according to usatoday.com.

Healthline, however, has reported couple of universities having problems with safe spaces. “Headlines about safe spaces and their relevance to free speech on college campuses flooded the editorial sections of news outlets. This occurred, in part, as a result of widely publicized incidents regarding safe spaces at universities across the country,” the report says.

In the fall of 2015, a series of student protests over racial tension erupted at the University of Missouri over safe spaces and their impact on freedom of the press. Weeks later, a controversy at Yale over offensive Halloween costumes escalated into a fight over safe spaces and students’ rights to freedom of expression.

In 2016, the dean of University of Chicago wrote a letter to the incoming class of 2020 stating that the university didn’t condone “trigger warnings or intellectual safe spaces.”

Safe spaces are an important need within college such as Landmark because they provide a place where students can develop their own identities and values, while at the same time safely promoting the values of diversity and sensitivity amongst students.

Not only is the Pa’Lante center a safe space where Latinx students can come to be together and celebrate their culture, but it is a place where everyone on campus is welcome for the chance to be educated about the wonders of this colorful culture and to be a part of the wonderful celebrations.

Of course, it is uncertain as to what the future holds for the Pa’Lante Center, but if these student leaders continue to be determined in continuing the work of sharing the Latinx culture with others and making it a place where Latinx students can feel a sense of belonging, it will grow to become a valued and important place within the Landmark community. According to Marc, “I think a variety of different cultures, and different kinds of people only help us grow.”

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