Latinx and Hispanic students make up 6.4 percent of the Elon student body.
A new report released this week shows more than half of respondents feel Elon is not welcoming for Latinx and Hispanic students.
The Latinx/Hispanic Working Group was established in 2017 by Randy Williams, associate vice president for campus engagement, and Brooke Barnett, associate provost for academic and inclusive excellence, to make suggestions how Elon can be a more welcoming place for minority students.
The Working Group conducted a survey and two focus groups conducted with Latinx and Hispanic students in which 212 students and 159 faculty/staff responded. 65 of them identify as Latinx.
The key findings of the report show less than half think Elon is an inclusive place, many Latinx and Hispanic students worry they’ll be judged and only a small fraction are satisfied with Elon’s process of bias reporting.
Christina Gallegos is a student coordinator at El Centro de Español. She feels she doesn’t have much in common with most students on campus.
"It’s very hard for me to find people that I relate to because most of the people that come here are white and they come from very wealthy families," Gallegos said. "And that’s something that minority students most of them we don’t share those same qualities."
Junie Vargas, Elon sophomore, is from Nicaragua and was part of the study. To her the most surprising thing in the report is discrimination from staff and faculty — people who she thinks should be the most educated on diversity.
A student in the report documented a professor who threatened to take points off their grade because of their Spanish accent. And a number of students who responded to the survey said they are worried they'll be judged by faculty and staff based on their ethnicity.
"At the end of the day, we’re all people and, like discrimination, doesn’t discriminate who the perpetrators are of it," Vargas said.
But Ariana Reyes, an Elon sophomore who’s from Honduras, says she has always felt included.
"I feel like Latinx, Hispanic students might come in as a little defensive just because this is a new experience to them and that’s completely normal and natural," Reyes said. "But by no means the teachers here are trying to make you feel like not welcomed, it’s just sometimes we as minorities make ourselves think that people are going to treat us differently."
Despite the findings in the report, Vargas thinks Elon is on the right track.
"This is obviously a thing that’s gonna take more than one research or like it’s not gonna change overnight but I feel like Elon is definitely starting to take the necessary steps," Vargas said.
And no amount of exclusivity will bring her down.
"Even though many people will assume other things no one is ever gonna say anything that will make me feel ashamed of where I come from, who I am," Vargas said.
The report includes a list of recommendations on how to fix the issue, including providing training for all faculty and giving "high-level attention" to recruiting Latinx and Hispanic students. University officials who conducted the report were unavailable for comment.
Read the full report below: