Updated on March 7, 2017 at 8:41 p.m.
The Office of Residential Life has introduced a new housing option for students next semester: Latinx House.
Plans for the house started as a conversation at a December Brown University Latinx Council meeting about Spanish House located in Machado. Many Latinx community members felt that even though Spanish House is seen as a space for Latinx students, those who identify as Latinx but do not speak Spanish often feel excluded, said Maryori Conde ’18, co-coordinator of Latinx House.
Spanish House has a "low-key reputation of being the Latinx House," Conde said. This reputation evokes colonization as "it perpetuates the stereotype that Spanish equals all Latinx folks, when that's not the case.” she said.
Sam Ortiz, a community director for ResLife, met with other members of the Latinx community in December to start the process of creating the Latinx House. The deadline for submitting a proposal for the house was Jan. 5.
Though there is already a Latino Affinity room in the Brown Center for Students of Color, some students who aren’t confident in using social justice terminology aren’t comfortable having conversations in the BCSC, said Michelle Cruz ’18, co-coordinator of the Latinx House. The Latinx House will serve as a space where Latinx students can easily and freely communicate with each other, she added.
Latinx community members involved in the creation of the house felt it was important for all members of the Latinx community at Brown to have a space where they felt comfortable, especially given the current political climate, said Camilla Ruiz Segovia ’18, co-coordinator of the Latinx house.
Many community-related events and conversations happen within an intimate house setting, Ruiz Segovia said. They wanted to ensure that Latinx students at Brown had a safe space for those activities to occur.
A lot of Latinx student groups on campus focus on national identity, so identities within Latinidad, such as Afro-Latinx, queer Latinx, trans-Latinx and non-Spanish Latinx, are unintentionally excluded from Latinx dialogue. The Latinx House hopes to serve as a space where all who identify as Latinx feel welcome and can learn more about what it means to be Latinx.
Latinx House is open to serving as a venue for celebrations of Latin American culture, such as Día de los Muertos and Carnaval. The house will also host political conversations involving and events supporting Latinx community members.
Students who identify as Latinx are given priority in membership of the house, but anyone who is interested in learning about Latinx culture can apply to live in the house, Conde said. The house will have 21 members next semester and occupy the rooms in Machado that were previously allocated to students living in the building who were not affiliated with French House or Spanish House.
Unlike French and Spanish house, Latinx house members will not have to pay house dues. The lack of dues ensure that all members of the Latinx community at Brown can feel comfortable applying to live in the house, regardless of their financial status, Ruiz Segovia said.
Since Latinx House will not receive any funding from dues, the house will host fundraising events throughout the semester. Applications to join Latinx House will close on March 8.