Western Carolina University is adding to its degree offerings, to better reflect the growing diversity on campus. The Latinx student population has increased significantly in less than a decade, to 700 students in 2018, compared to 105 in 2010.
WCU lecturer Melissa Berkhofer says the school is starting a US Latinx studies minor in the fall to be more inclusive and representative of the students. Berkhofer, who directs the program, says students don’t have to identify as Latinx.
“You don’t have to have any specific language skills to be in the minor, it’s for everyone, but it is also showing that we have a burgeoning population of Latinx students at Western,” Berkhofer said.
The Latinx Studies minor requires taking six classes across different disciplines, including history and literature.
“In the course that I will be teaching in the fall, we will spend some time debating and talking about this very controversial term, of Latinx, and pluses and minuses, and why it’s important and where we’re going to go from there,” Berkhofer said.
Latinx is a gender-neutral variation of the word “Latino,” but it’s not readily adopted by everyone.
Western is also in the preliminary stages of developing a minor in African American studies.
The University says the goal is to have a director named this fall, with that person starting in the fall of 2020. That would give the university a year to develop the curriculum and recruit students into the program.
Western Carolina University is a business sponsor of Blue Ridge Public Radio.