The Latine Student Assembly, formerly known as the Latinx Student Assembly, has ceased using the term “Latinx” in its title. Two student publications on campus, Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media, discuss their policies regarding word usage and inclusion.
Melissa Ayala, the assistant director of LSA, said in an email that the decision to switch the term “Latinx” with “Latine” had been in the works since last semester, after a newsletter sent within the club showed that students felt there was a lack of inclusivity of the Spanish language in the club’s programming.
“We felt that it was important to be advocates for their voices and concerns,” Ayala said. “Students also felt that the term Latinx was outdated and left out native Spanish speakers.”
The LSA is one of 10 cultural student assemblies that operates under the programming branch of the Undergraduate Student Government. An umbrella organization that provides funding and assistance to about 20 other registered clubs, LSA made the shift to better reflect the diversity of the Latinx student community at USC – which makes up about 15% of the student population.
While the name change has yet to be updated on the campus engagement platform EngageSC, the LSA recently changed its Instagram handle to reflect the shift.
After the LSA announced its name change, the Daily Trojan followed suit, updating its style guide to reflect the term “Latine,” over “Latinx.” Christina Chkarboul, an associate managing editor at the Daily Trojan, said that after having a discussion between editors, the student newspaper made an official change to their style guide to reflect LSA’s decision.
“If that’s the campus group that sees itself as representing the Latine student community at USC, if that’s the term that they would prefer to use to represent and identify themselves as,” said Chkarboul, “then it only made sense that we here at the Daily Trojan also adopt that change.”
Marlize Duncan, the leader of the Annenberg Media Equity Board, said that on Wednesday, the board will be discussing the newsroom’s overall shift in terminology following LSA’s change.
“We’ve just always tended to use the term Latinx because the USC population at large is used to that term,” Duncan said. She added that because Annenberg Media’s policy already includes using the identifier “Latine,” the real change would be telling student journalists to use “Latine” as the main identifying word in the newsroom.
According to Annenberg Media’s guide for equitable reporting, “Latinx and Latine are gender-neutral terms that can be used instead of Latina or Latino. Follow the person’s preference. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian or Mexican American.”
Hence, at Annenberg Media, the Latine Student Assembly will be referred to as such, not the previously known Latinx Student Assembly.
Further meetings will be held to accurately represent the Latinx community in reporting, including discussions with student editors at Dímelo – USC’s only Latinx-focused student news outlet. Dímelo often references the Cultural Competence Handbook from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for additional guidance.
Maria Robles, an editor at Dímelo, said that while she personally didn’t mind using the term “Latinx,” she recognizes LSA’s decision to switch.
“When it comes to the change, I’ve always been neutral when it came to Latinx out of respect for those who identify as the term,” Robles said. “So I personally don’t mind the change, but I understand that it may make people more comfortable to use Latine over Latinx.”
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, about 25% of U.S. adults have heard the term Latinx. Meanwhile, only 3% of them self-identify with the term.
Allan Lopez, an adjunct journalism professor at USC Annenberg and producer at KTLA5, said that the conversations student organizations are having about language and self-identification reflect the nuance of communities themselves.
“It’s difficult because not only is the use of language changing, society has changed. We’re also changing as a group, and we’re constantly morphing,” Lopez said. “There’s so many layers to this topic in general, and it’s important that everyone is heard from and counted and represented.”
He added that handbooks and style guides are not set in stone.
“[The Annenberg Media] handbook…it’s a living document,” Lopez said. “As student organizations, we need to adapt, we need to be flexible to move closer to making everyone feel included. It’s a challenge.”
Some students agree that keeping up with inclusive language is challenging, but necessary. Jazmin Mendez, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, said that while she’s not a fan of the “Latine” ending because she’s habitually used “Latinx,” she understands that the solution is not clear cut.
“I don’t really know what’s the correct way. There’s different opinions,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but it’s just a new thing that you kind of have to get used to.”