aztec hispanic culture remains ancient history
Chicano/Latino Affairs Council

Historia / History


Welcome. Learn more about the Chicano/Latino Affairs Council

The Watsonville Center

The Chicano/Latino Affairs Council has existed at Cabrillo College since 1981. Our long history begins in 1974 when Latinos on campus gained significant visibility with a sit-in strike by students in which they demanded that the administration hire a Latina/o for an opening as an affirmative action officer. The students and their supporters around the campus ultimately succeeded in their efforts, and the event stands as a defining moment. Afterward, members of the greater community and Rudy Ortega brought a lawsuit from which a court-monitored affirmative action plan was put into place. Not only had the issue of Latina/o representation on campus been brought forward in a dramatic way, but the administration was compelled to deal more forcefully on behalf of its Latina/o constituency. The need for greater representation became imperative among Latina/o faculty, staff, and students. It led to informal meetings that culminated in creating the Cabrillo Hispanic Affairs Council (CHAC) in 1981. CHAC developed into an organization on campus that advocates directly on behalf of Latino students, faculty, and staff. In 1986, CHAC became institutionally recognized within the College's governance structure as a standing committee and met regularly with the college president each year. In 2020, CHAC updated its name to Chicano/Latino Affairs Council or C/LAC.


The Chicano/Latino Affairs Council's influence on Cabrillo College has been significant throughout its history. Each semester, Council members are involved in shared governance and serve on numerous college-wide committees. The Council supports the efforts to change the college's name away from Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo into a new nomenclature that reflects our student body and respects indigenous peoples. In addition, we wholeheartedly support the pronounced growth of a permanent, robust, and sustainable Ethnic Studies department.

In the past, the organization helped with the development of the Bilingual/Bicultural Studies Program (BBS), which originally focused on bilingual education and later expanded to linguistic minority issues in other disciplines. The Chicano/Latino Affairs Council also helped develop all course proposals with Latinx content, such as: Art History 19 (Art of the Americas); Art History 52 (Latin American Art); BBS 32 (Issues of Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Education, History and Politics); BBS 33 (Contemporary Issues in Linguistically and Ethnically Diverse Communities); History 16 (History of Mexico); History 21A (History of the Chicano to 1846); History 21B (History of the Chicano since 1846); History 23 (History of Contemporary Chicano Movements); Psychology 20 (Current Topics-Chicano Psychology); Spanish 39C (Chicano Literature); and Women's Studies 5 (La Mujer). These course offerings have since increased owing to a new awareness and to the growing need for these courses. The Chicano/Latino Affairs Council also supported the development of a Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies certificate.

The Chicano/Latino Affairs Council helped lead the effort to successfully institute a three-unit Multicultural Studies requirement for all Cabrillo College graduates. Through the efforts of the Multicultural Studies Committee, which included Félix Robles, Alan Lonnberg, Howard Ikemoto, Judith Ortiz-Shushan, Rudy Ortega, Joseph McNeilly, Shirley Flores-Munoz, Rosemarie Greiner, and Annette March, the requirement was approved unanimously in Academic Council on December 13, 1989. The three Chicano/Latino Affairs Council members were Robles, Ortega, and Flores-Munoz. The purpose of this Multicultural Studies requirement is to provide broader awareness and understanding of the diversity within the College and the community at large. As the nation moves toward greater racial and ethnic diversity, our graduates should be prepared to engage effectively with these changing demographics.

Nonetheless, challenges abound. Current demographic information reveals that additional challenges remain for the Chicano/Latino Affairs Council and the larger Cabrillo community to address. In 2020, Santa Cruz county had 35% of residents identified as Hispanic/Latina/o/x compared to 46% of Cabrillo students. In addition, 57% of kindergarteners in the county are Hispanic/Latinx indicating the continued increase of this community. Over the last decade, the college has moved from the majority of Hispanic/Latina/o/x English and math enrollments being below transfer-level to almost all students enrolled in transfer pathway courses. The spring 2020, graduating class was nearly 50% Hispanic/Latina/o/x indicating that Latinx student succeed at Cabrillo College.

Hispanic/Latinx by the numbers for 2020:

  • 35% of Santa Cruz County residents

  • 46% of Cabrillo students

  • 57% of Kindergarten students

  • 90%+ of Cabrillo students in transfer pathway English or math

Today, the Chicano/Latino Affairs Council (C/LAC) remains active and strongly committed to its original goal of addressing the needs of Latinx students on our campus. Along with the College Planning Council (CPC), C/LAC actively serves on and supports the HSI Leadership Team. Annually, the HSI Leadership Team implements a variety of recommendations to better meet the educational needs of Latinx students and to serve the greater Latinx community in Santa Cruz County.

C/LAC goals fall under the four principal areas. The first is advocacy in curriculum and program development which includes: encouraging the integration of topics and issues relevant to Latinx students in all disciplines; the support for Latinx programs already on campus; the establishment of a permanent, robust, and sustainable Ethnic Studies department. The second area is advocacy for the hiring of faculty and staff reflecting the demographics of the Cabrillo student body. A third priority is the maintenance and development of web pages on the Cabrillo site to further the organization's outreach and communication with the campus and surrounding community. Finally, the Chicano/Latino Affairs Council will work toward raising awareness of local, statewide, and national issues relating to Latinx students and community by conducting outreach activities, which may include Flex Week workshops, Board of Trustees presentations, letter-writing campaigns, etc.


In the pantheon of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Mesoamerica, "Chac" was, and remains, an important deity and symbol. In Maya mythology, Chac was the god associated with rain and thunder, and was also significant with regards to rites and observances associated with fertility and agriculture. Other Maya terms used to refer to Chac include "he who gives food away to other people," and "he who lights the sky." Our organization wishes to incorporate the symbolism associated with Chac. We hope that through our efforts, we can help provide the fertile ground—the support and infrastructure necessary for Latina/o students to access higher education. We see our role as public servants working to light the way and to empower students and other community members to take control of their future and accomplish their life's goals successfully.