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Throwback Thursday: A Latino Presence at UAlbany is Born

The student group Fuerza Latina participates in one of its many Hispanic heritage and cultural events with a dance under the vaulted halls outside the Campus Center. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 30, 2017) — Circa 1971, student organizations promoting cultural identity were springing up on campus, even though the campus population at the time was overwhelmingly white.

Fuerza Latina, translated Latina “strength” or “force,” began that year, as its current website proclaims, despite “a startling small demographic.” Though official figures are not available, the “Hispanic” student population was likely little more than 100, since it only grew in 1982 to 224 undergraduates and 55 graduate students out of a student population of nearly 16,000. In 1971, Fuerza Latina numbered less than two dozen.

The group was created to provide a service and support network for students of Latino descent. In addition to offering gathering places to build friendships and discuss social and academic concerns, the group sponsored political groups and visiting musical and theatrical performers. It also featured parties and dances that were hailed as among the best and liveliest on campus.

Today, the Hispanic student population totals more than 2,350, nearly 2,100 of them undergrads. And Fuerza Latina, now numbering 261 members, continues to work to be a unifying force for the entire UAlbany community, while enriching the Latino community in order that they be active agents of change for Latinos on campus, locally, and in their home towns and country.

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