Chicano Movement Comes to Trinity

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Banner from the first issue of the newsletter of the Trinity Association of Chicano Students.  The newsletter was most likely created by Rogelio "Smiley" Riojas.

The 1960s ushered in a new social consciousness at Trinity University. A heightened awareness developed with the realization that the protection of the individual rights of students was insecure when a group anonymously distributed an underground publication called "The Tiger's Burp" in 1966.  The expulsion of these students set off a series of events which ultimately led to former president of the Student Association, Art Sundstrom, and the student body to work with faculty and administration to create the Joint Statement on Student Rights and Freedoms in 1969.  Protests were also not removed from Trinity.  This is most evident in the shift of support for the Vietnam War on campus with the hosting of a moratorium and a "sympathy strike" in memorial of the Kent State student killings.

Though the collective narrative has been that the “campus on the hill” was generally apathetic to issues of the mid-20th century, as the 1960s progressed, there was growing student interest to be involved in not only campus policy making, but also to create spaces to participate in local and national social and political issues.  

However, even Sundstrom reflected in a Trinitonian article for the 150th Anniversary university celebration that “we lived in what we called the Trinity Bubble, where most students went on with their lives as though nothing much was happening in the outside world.”  In writing this article, campus historian Dr. R. Douglas Brackenridge relayed that history professor Dr. Donald Everett, commented at the time, “Mainly at Trinity the protest has been that there has been no protest.” More recently, there are casual jokes that the only issue that Trinity students have been able to rally behind is the upset when Trinity switched from Division I to Division III tennis in 1991.

While it can be argued that the Trinity bubble has yet to truly burst, to say that Trinity was void of any real student social activism on campus is simply not true. 

What these narratives do is downplay the groundwork that women, LGBTQ, and minority students; student organizations such as Black Efforts of Trinity and the Trinity Association of Chicano Students; and unaffiliated groups like S.N.C.C. and Con Safo were doing at Trinity, whether intentionally or not, to enact a cultural shift on campus.

This exhibit will focus on the Chicano Movement at Trinity.  It begins with the Valley Farm Workers Strike of 1966 and the cultural climate of the campus in the late 1960s. It explores the work of the Trinity Association of Chicano Students and ends at the end of this era, what we call the Chicano Era at Trinity in 1980.

*Later the exhibit will examine the presence of the Chicano/a art on campus.

Chicano Movement Comes to Trinity