Chicano Student Programs was founded at UCR in 1972. Various student and faculty movements led to the creation of a department that would meet the needs of both Raza faculty and students on campus. Chicano students and faculty demanded a space that would nourish the growing population of first-generation scholars entering UCR. CSP was created as a safe space to celebrate our heritage, educate ourselves and others about our culture, stay involved with our different communities and to advocate for educational necessities. CSP remains a central location for faculty, staff, students and community members to discuss issues pertaining to our Raza.
The program was founded by a committee that included faculty members organizing around the needs of Raza faculty and students at UCR. Dr. Eugene Cota-Robles was a microbiologist and the department chair of Chicano Studies at the time. Dr. Carlos Cortés was a historian and Chicano studies professor. Alberto Richard Chavez was the assistant dean of student services.
With the support of many students, staff and community members, the committee was able to advocate for a “home away from home” for Chicano students at the UCR campus.
Alberto R. Chavez served as director of Chicano Student Programs for 15 years. In 1986, he was succeeded by Rebecca Chavez, who held the position for one year. Robert Nava was appointed to serve as director in 1989. Alfredo Figueroa, currently an assistant dean at UCR, served as director for another 15 years. During a one-year interim period in the early eighties, UCR alumnus Raymond Navarro also served as program director. In 2004, after having worked as CSP’s student assistant, senior clerk and social/cultural programmer Estella Acuña became CSP’s present director.
Support staff has included Aurora Gonzalez, Armida Amaya, Estela Figueroa, Jacalyn López Garcia, Lydia Enriquez, Nora Cornejo and currently John Valdez. The social/cultural programmer position, created in 1988, has been held by Josefina Canchola, Carolyn Sandoval, Veronica O.Hernandez, Elena Perez and now Arlene Cano.
The office first started on the second floor of UCR’s Library South, adjacent to the “El Centro” meeting room, across the hall from the Chicano Studies Department and the offices of EOP/SAA Support Services. As the population of Raza students continued to grow, CSP was relocated to a more visible space in the “Commons Area.” Due to renovations to this space, CSP was housed in trailers in parking lot 19 until it was moved to Costo Hall. The office is now located in 145 Costo Hall, which offers more space for offices, student meeting rooms and the planning and execution of our events.
While the location of CSP has varied over the years, the mural representing the history of Raza students and CSP still remains part of the office. The wall-length mural was created by local artist Chano Gonzalez, and funded by a National Council of the Arts grant in 1975. During the first relocation of the office, the mural was threatened to be white-washed. However, student, faculty, and staff protests ensured the security of the artwork. The remaining 10 panels are now displayed at CSP’s current location.