In a Nov. 12 open letter, Pitzer College's Latinx Student Union (LSU) requested that the Dolores Huerta room, located in the Gold Student Center (GSC), be returned to their supervision and control. Dan Hirsch, Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life, approved the request after meeting with students from LSU.
“This space is necessary in our attempts to protect the spiritual, physical, and mental wellbeing of our current and future Latinx Pitzer students,” the letter stated.
The LSU had full control of the room until the 2013-2014 school year, when their space was temporarily moved to Holden Hall due to renovations. This year, the LSU began using the Dolores Huerta room again, but they no longer had 24-hour swipe access or control over the room's schedule, amenities and decor.
“Before renovation, the Dolores Huerta room was ours,” Hernely Bonilla PZ ‘16 said. “When the place got renovated, we tried our best to fight for reclaiming [the room].”
LSU members noted the difficulties that arose with shared ownership of the room.
“You walk in and there’s another meeting happening,” Naomi Orozco-Valdivia PZ ‘19 said. “You don’t belong there when there’s other people in that space.”
Dan Hirsch, Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life, who is in his first year at Pitzer, wrote in an email to TSL, “I approved the request to return the Dolores Huerta room back to LSU control within two hours of our meeting.”
According to Hirsch, the situation had mainly been a misunderstanding. Hirsch said that he and the LSU leaders “agree that providing a space for the LSU is important and we are making the transition happen.”
“It’s not clear to me why LSU was ever not in control of that space, so it was a pretty easy and obvious decision on my part,” Hirsch said.
Bonilla believes that it’s vital that the LSU have its own room and that the room to “provide a space of healing.”
“We just live in a culture where you feel the need to change yourself to fit in, and I want LSU to be a space where you don’t have to change who you are,” she said.
Other student groups at Pitzer, such as the Black Students Union and the Center for Asian Pacific American Studies, have their own rooms.
“Being a person of color in the 5C bubble can be a lot of times draining; emotionally it is very hard,” Orozco-Valdivia said.
Bonilla said that the new Dolores Huerta room will be a “home away from home, if you will. That’s what LSU wants to be.”
Hernely Bonilla PZ ‘16, who has been a member of LSU since her first year at Pitzer, said that she has seen the organization grow from about five to 45 actively engaged members. The LSU's activities include tutoring the dining hall workers and their children and fundraising for college scholarships for students in local high schools.
“LSU has become a space for Latino students on campus to come together and talk about what it means to Latino on this campus,” Orozco-Valdivia said.
Correction: The article originally indicated that the Rainbow People Collaborative had a physical space on Pitzer's campus. This is incorrect—the organization is currently working to establish a space of their own.