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The founding of the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Program at UW–Madison was the answer to a call from student activists in the 1970s. Students began picketing for the department in April 1974 and by 1975 had organized La Raza Unida Party to petition for the department’s creation. In 1976, the program was established in the School of Education under the name Chicano Studies, with an initial focus on student recruitment and retention. In 1988, the program moved to the College of Letters & Science. By 1992, the program saw the creation of a Chicano studies certificate, the first certificate in an ethnic studies program at the UW. A decade later, the name of the program was changed to Chicana/o Studies, and in 2005, it was renamed yet again to its present Chican@ and Latin@ Studies (CLS). Over the course of its 46 years, the program’s leadership has changed hands several times; one program administrator — Sylvia Garcia ’75, who served from 2008 to 2016 — was among the students who picketed for the department’s creation in 1974. Today, the department offers both a certificate and a doctoral minor, in addition to courses ranging from history and geography to literature and political science that students can take to fulfill their ethnic studies requirement — or because they’re just so dang fascinating. The department also boasts an affiliated student organization, Chican@ and Latin@ Certificate Student Association (ChiLaCSA), which has helped organize some of this month’s Latinx Heritage Month events.

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