When Raza Resource Centro opened in 2014, it brought resources, community and a place of belonging under one roof.Walk into Raza Resource Centro at UC San Diego and your gaze is immediately drawn to a prominent and vibrantly colored panorama depicting artists and activists, community builders and rebels—people who have defined, shaped and transformed Latinx/Chicanx identity throughout history.
“It’s really empowering to see faces like mine and others represented in the mural,” says UC San Diego senior Daniella Tajimaroa ’19. “It’s inspiring, not just for the representation, but knowing the history and advocacy work that was put in by students.”
That history and advocacy work dates back to the 1960s–70s, with the establishment of a UC San Diego chapter of the student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), an activist group that drew inspiration and empowerment from the larger Chicano Movement of that time. The group shares much history with the Black Student Union—the two organizations rallied together in the student campaign to name Third College in honor of revolutionary icons Patrice Lumumba and Emiliano Zapata. The groups also shared a space in the Student Services Center, but after racially charged events of 2010, campus members spoke out and insisted on more centers for community building.
As a result, the Raza Resource Centro opened in 2014. Jessica Aguilar ’14, who visited the shared space often as an undergraduate, recalls the emotions she felt attending the Centro’s opening celebration while a graduate student. “It was in this community that I cried during finals, met to plan conferences and created lasting friendships,” says Aguilar. “It is great to see the next generation now have access to what we didn’t have before—community, resources and a place of belonging.”
Much more than a study space, the Raza Resource Centro invites all students, staff and faculty to join in community, develop academically and professionally, and become immersed in the diverse Latinx/Chicanx history and culture. “I can be myself and speak my native language,” Aguilar says of the Centro. “I know I can find someone I can talk to who has probably lived the same experiences that I’m trying to navigate.”
Today, the Centro is always buzzing with activity. Every Friday, students gather for a community writing collective to critically examine their work. They prepare undergraduate research, apply to scholarships and internships and polish their speaking skills before presenting at national conferences. In addition, faculty and graduate students hold scholarly conversations during a quarterly Brown Bag Series.
Learn more at raza.ucsd.edu.