The images of students carrying signs using profanity against El Centro and Centro Director Elvira Prieto and calling for staff firing from the May 5th incident during Cafecito at El Centro were devastating. Intimidation, name calling and aggressive confrontation are not how we resolve differences in our comunidad. The list of demands, protest signs and the calls to remove El Centro’s Director, Elvira Prieto, were difficult to understand and inconsistent with the spirit and mission of the Centro and Casa Zapata.
As an alumnae, Stanford volunteer and parent of two recent Stanford graduates, I have seen Elvira’s hard work and commitment to students. I have also admired her passion for preserving our art, culture, traditions and history at Stanford. I am proud to have such a strong and committed advocate for our comunidad.
In her roles as Director of El Centro and Resident Fellow of Casa Zapata Elvira has been a selfless advocate for our comunidad. Throughout her tenure Elvira has led the Centro with integrity, compassion, and humility. Elvira works hard to create a safe space for all students to gather. In her role as Director of El Centro and RF of Casa Zapata, Elvira has been a zealous advocate for increased resources, administrative support and other services for our comunidad. We must demand that Elvira be treated with the dignity and respect that she has earned.
I have known Elvira since the early 90’s doing the hard work in the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and leading the Hunger Strike of 1994, as well as dealing with the fallout and its aftermath. These efforts eventually led to the creation of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE). Building on the legacy and the sacrifices of our ancestors and of the generations of MEChistas before us, Elvira served as a student leader in the fight for increased support services for students, culturally relevant educational opportunities, and increased resources that our comunidad enjoys today. She put her life on the line and has dedicated her career since then to preserving these precious resources. Elvira remains steadfast in her commitment to our comunidad.
During Elvira’s tenure as Director of El Centro programming, staff composition and our physical spaces have evolved to reflect the increasing diversity of our community. She has woven a beautiful tapestry rich with the colorful intersectionality of our community and based on our common values of respeto, cariño y dignidad. We must protect our resources and support those doing the hard work to preserve our place at Stanford.
We must also remember that El Centro and Casa Zapata belong to all of us. These spaces belong to the current students holding those spaces, the staff working to support them, the faculty who help build community, and to generations of alumni who risked their academic careers and personal well-being as students and continue to come back to campus year after year to give of their time, talents, and funds. El Centro also belongs to future generations who will continue to build on our legacy.
Let us learn each other’s histories and experiences and honor the struggle of those whose blood, sweat and tears laid the foundation for our comunidad at Stanford. As we have throughout our history, let’s draw our strength from one another and come together with dignity and respect to resolve our differences. El pueblo unido, jamas será vencido!
Con Cariño y Respeto,
B.A. ’92, J.D. ‘95