Nearly a year after Latino student leaders staged a small-scale demonstration demanding a Latin American Studies program, School of Arts and Sciences officials said this week that there are no plans to start such a program. Latin American Culture Program Director Nancy Farriss said this week that the program is not feasible "in the foreseeable future" because it would require several new faculty members and courses. Farriss, a history professor, added that currently there are only high-level courses for Latin American Studies. But program Assistant Director Dain Borges said this week that several faculty members have discussed the possibility of making Latin American Studies available as a minor for undergraduates. "Our conclusion when we studied the idea was that there are barely enough faculty and course offerings for a minor, and not enough for a serious Latin American studies major," Borges said. Both Farriss and Borges said it is not for lack of interest that the program cannot be implemented. College senior Carmen Maldonado, who helped organize last year's student protest, said earlier this week that she was not satisfied with the amount of time the administration put into developing the program last year. She added that she has not been informed of any progress made since last May. "I think ever since I was a freshman at Penn I wondered why at such a prestigious University I couldn't learn about my culture," former Asociacion Cultural de Estudiantes Latinos Americanos President Maldonado said. "I would hope they'd involve Latin American groups on campus in any discussions about this." Maldonado added that she thinks it is unfair that any cultural population on campus is unable to learn about its heritage. Associate Dean for the Humanities Stephen Nichols said this week that the "Dean's office is very committed to Latin American studies." He added that he has planned a meeting with professors involved in Latin American studies "to decide what is feasible with the given resources and how to maximize use of the resources we have." Currently students interested in Latin American studies cannot major in the discipline. The students can participate in the non-curricular Latin American Culture Program, a year-old program focusing on area research. The program involves Latin American-oriented professors and students who share research results and ideas through monthly seminars and yearly symposiums. "We're trying to make the Latin American presence felt on campus," Director Farriss said. "We want to show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."Comments powered by Disqus
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