National Media highlight Generation Z, the generation after millennial, as the most progressive and diverse generation. National media also mentioned that Gen Z has the ability to choose what is going to happen in the future; that is one of the factors that helped create the student-led petition going around Texas A&M University to create a Latinx Center.
Gen Z is most likely to protest, compared to the generation of the1960’s based on the reminiscent political chaos and anger, said Felipe Hinojosa, director of the Carlos H. Cantu Hispanic Education and Opportunity Endowment and associate professor of history and Latina/o studies at Texas A&M. He explained civil rights as one of his concentrations in history.
Students of Gen Z and faculty from Texas A&M are highlighting the need for LC at A&M. Others believe it will create disadvantages.
Hinojosa said that Gen Z is unique based on the increased level of fear, which has caused the level of activism to also increase.
“I believe Generation Z would be amazing and do great work, but as a faculty member whose experiences were very different, as we were fighting and all of that, we didn’t have Trump in the White House,” said Hinojosa.
Current events such as “Trump in the white house” are lasting impacts and a key to how Gen Z form their standpoint, said Hinojosa.
A writer who explored the election of Donald Trump, multiple mass shootings, and immigration in America for Generation Z said that it shaped their outlook, behavior and concerns.
The writer Lauren Young added that the rise of social movements are not only changing the way how young people associate, but also have emerged as a space for Gen Z to undertake their emotional and intellectual work for her article in Teen Vogue.
Young explained that current events also help Gen Z to discover their personal civic values and where to invest their time and energy.
The recent El Paso shooting, mainly targeting Latinx, created a concern for Edgar Rivera, junior political science student and president of Council of Minority Student Association.
“Things like that tend to stick with people, the sense of feeling that you are targeted and hated,” said Rivera.
Rivera mentioned the difference between Latinx student at A&M face and how it is one of the many motives to start a petition for LC.
“For some people you can walk out the door and that is their safe space,” said Rivera. “It is a different environment that Latinx and other minorities encounter at A&M,” he added.
The increase of anticipation increased the level of participation towards creating LC.
“Over 2,500 students have signed the electronic petition,” said Rivera.
The multiple headline issues not only increased activism towards Gen Z, but according to the American Psychological Association (APA) report in 2018, it also increased stress and poor mental health.
APA mentioned in their article “Stress in America Generation Z” a number of issues dominate the news cycle today, the issues cause Gen Z to increase in stress, compared to often larger numbers in adults overall.
For Hinojosa, one of the high levels of stress Latinx students experience at A&M would be on the process of learning how to navigate college and transition to a predominately white school, mainly due to being the first to go to college within their family.
“I was one of those students,” said Hinojosa, as he explained his undergrad experience of attending a similar demographic institution.
Hinojosa described the situation as a disclosure in the form of language in which Latinx students do not seem to understand, which motivates them to gain insider information that way they can understand it.
“Not only is there a lot of white people here, but they are all talking together about something, I don’t know what it is, they all seem to be doing very well and having a good time while we [Latinx students] are trying to figure the whole school thing out,” said Hinojosa.
Hinojosa said that a LC can serve as a place to ease Latinx students with the major transition.
College overall increases stress for students, but for Nancy Plankey-Videla, an associate professor for the Department of Sociology, students of color have an additional stress at A&M by not feeling welcomed. Experience of dirty looks, discrimination and sense of being used, she said.
“It makes them work harder and that can be exhausting, it shouldn’t have to be like that because we are all equally valuable,” said Plankey-Videla.
Plankey-Videla expressed the importance of creating LC as a space where Latinx students do not have to be defensive which could help improve student life.
“It can help Latinx students be more productive members of society,” said Plankey-Videla.
The major push of old traditions at A&M can also be a factor in creating stress and anxiety towards Latinx students, said Sonia Hernandez, an associate professor for the History Department.
“It carries a lot of weight on students that are from underrepresented groups and faculty,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez added that as a historian, the traditions at A&M are very valued but they are not culturally sensitive.
“They were formed during an era when African Americans and women were not allow to attend the institution,” said Hernandez.
For Hernandez, LC can serve as a place where Latinx students can have a sense of inclusivity.
“[It’s] a space that says you belong here and you are just as maroon as anybody else,” said Hernandez.
As some students and faculty advocate to become equal, for Joel Rebollar, a junior historian major and Hispanic conservative, anyone attending A&M is already considered to be an equal Aggie.
“There is no need for a Latinx Center to define that,” said Rebollar.
Rebollar agreed with the amount of stress and anxiety Latinx students face but he also mentioned that it is a norm and can promote Latinx to do more.
“You should be a little uncomfortable in order to be comfortable,” said Rebollar.
Through the process of anxiety and stress, Generation Z is also socially conscious and hypersensitive, said Rebollar. Creating a LC will be a space that is exclusive, he added.
“This is the type of thing we fought for in the civil rights, no exclusion from people, no segregated spaces, that we would all be equal,” said Rebollar.
“[Latinx students] would not value having conversations with people who have opposing views,” said Rebollar.
Creating shields of protection has been witnessed a lot with Generation Z, and for writers of the Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, students of this generation should be taught how to live in a world full of potential offensives they cannot control rather than trying to protect them.
Luckian and Haidt mention that it can allow Gen Z to have an open state of mind towards ideas and new people in their article “The Coddling of the American Mind”.
Luckian and Haidt also questioned the learning of Generation Z as they spend their college years in a community that polices unintentional slights.
Luckian and Haidt say that it creates a culture where everyone must think twice before speaking up.
For Rebollar, LC would be a place for protection from the real world thus becoming more enclosed.
“I encourage everybody to go out there, meet different people and experience new things at A&M,” said Rebollar.
However, for Plankey-Videla, Rivera, Hernandez, and Hinojosa, LC is not meant to exclude others, but as a place to form community and assistance.
“The Latinx Center will not be their whole life, it is something [Latinx students] can have on top of that,” said Plankey-Videla.
“I do hope people understand that this isn’t about segregating ourselves, said Rivera, it is the process of healing, accomplishing higher education, having a home away from home,” he said.
“Latinx Center would be a message in which the space symbolizes that A&M is entering the Hispanic-Serving Institution status, and the message that we care about students who look differently, but who are still 100 percent Aggies,” said Hernandez.
People need people, said Hinojosa, LC can serve as a place to check up on their peers, motivate others to get their homework done, provide support, encouragement and resources from mentors faculty and staff, he said.
Plankey-Videla made the point that Generation Z and current students at A&M should be listened to.
“Years back if you were to tell me people are fighting for a Latinx Center at A&M, I would have not believed it, but the students are the ones who are asking for it, marching on campus, pushing faculty and staff and petitioning the university, I think it can be possible,” said Plankey Videla.