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UCSD Adopts Latinx and Chicanx Terms

Created: 06 December, 2018
Updated: 13 September, 2023
3 min read

(Foto/Jim Coit Photography)

As the terms become more commonly used and more students begin to identify with these, UC San Diego has begun to officially use the gender-neutral terms “Latinx” and “Chicanx,” which now replace the more traditionally used terms Latino and Chicano respectively.

The adoption of the terms is part of the campus’ Latinx/Chicanx Academic Excellence Initiative, a push by UCSD’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and its dean Becky Petit to bring together services and aid to attract students whose family background can be described as Latin American, Mexican American or Mexican.

The gender-neutral terms, with an x at the end, aim to include students who do and do not identify inside the male-female gender binary. As the terms Latino and Latina, as well as Chicano and Chicana, imply that there are only two gender identities, male and female, which leaves out any transgender or non gender conforming students.

The adoption of these terms comes at a time in which the La Jolla campus has been recognized as an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution, a higher education center which serves a population between 15 to 24 percent full-time students of Latinx background. Universities enrolling 25 percent or more full time students of Latinx origin are recognized as a qualified Hispanic-Serving Institution and can apply for federal grants to promote inclusivity and student programs.

Photo/ Erika Johnson
Edward Abeyta, associate dean at UCSD Extension, points out that as the Latinx and Chicanx student body continues to grow across California’s education systems, it is important that the University takes the steps to include and represent the students it serves.

“As a public institution, we want to serve the public we represent. And with this growing demographic, we want to make sure we serve Latinx and Chicanx students,” he said, adding that Latinx enrollment percentages are secondary to true inclusion.

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Senior student Yosira Hernandez, who has been using the terms for over a year, supports the move towards more inclusive language, as it reflects the student body’s culture of inclusivity and tolerance.

“Not everyone identifies as Latino or Latina and this is just us opening the doors to these students, saying ‘you do belong here and are one of us at UCSD,’” Hernandez said.

The terms have been in circulation among student spaces and online for several years now. But as Hernandez pointed out, the term gained traction on campus through students at the UCSD LGBT center.

“I’m surprised it just got noticed because (the terms) have been getting used for a while now,” Hernandez added.

For Abeyta, creating a space for inclusion is a natural progression for UC San Diego, as universities have a tradition to create progressive spaces.

“This part of UCSD growing up if you will. It is one thing to be the school on the hill that people know about because of research or academics, but now is really a moment to be proud of because we are now being inclusive and that is part of the maturity of being an important institution,” he stated.

As a student, Hernandez believes the adoption of the terms by the university is a great step forward.

“The university is listening; for them to start using the term themselves shows there is care about how the students want to be represented and that’s what really matters.”

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Other local higher learning institutions using gender neutral terms in advertisements and materials include Grossmont College and Miracosta College.

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