Latino Living Center

"Juntos Somos Fuertes"

"Together we are strong"


The History of Latinos at Cornell & The Latino Living Center

The Latino student presence at Cornell University dates back to written record of Latin American student José Hercules Thomaz Aquino, a Brazilian, who began his studies in 1873 and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture in 1877. Cornell University has had a historical tradition of both support of under-represented minorities and minority students protest in the effort to gain equal treatment, respect, and support from the University. With a growing presence on campus in 1977, La Asociación Latina was formed with the motto, La union hace la fuerza, in unity lies strength. Almost a decade later, faculty and administration worked together in the spring of 1986 to submit a proposal for the creation of a Hispanic American Studies Program (HASP), now the Latina/o Studies Program (LSP).

Early in the fall of 1993, the Johnson Museum worked with HASP to bring a group of Latino artists to Cornell. The artists installed eight site-specific pieces on campus for the exhibition "Revelation/Revelaciones: Hispanic Art of Evanescence." The most controversial installation was a piece by Daniel J. Martinez entitled "The Castle is Burning." The piece consisted of eight feet tall wood panels that divided the Arts Quad into many sections. Messages were written in letters two feet tall atop the black wood walls. The message that provoked the strongest reaction from the Cornell Community read "In a rich man's house the only place to spit is in his face."

Shortly after the exhibit opened, vandals painted a swastika and profanities on the wood panels and tore down some of the letters and panels. Arguing that the University wouldn't protect the piece of artwork, a group of Latina/o students linked arms around Martinez's installation, forcing many people trying to get to class on the Arts Quad to turn around and take another route. Later that same day, the human barricade marched to Day Hall and began their takeover of the building.

Below is a history of the events that led to the conception and ultimate establishment of the Latino Living Center.

We begin with a timeline of the Day Hall Takeover in 1993. After getting an understanding of the history behind the Latino Living Center we invite you to read our mission, a statement set forth at the time of the Center's conception.

October 1993: Los Angeles-based artist Daniel J. Martinez begins building his controversial, site specific art installation called "The Castle is Burning."

November 1993: "The Castle is Burning," now a completed series of tarred walls emblazoned with messages, lines the pathways of Cornell's Arts Quad. The structure, part of the "Revelations" art exhibit is scheduled to stay up until December. It becomes the object of several acts of vandalism.

November 19, 1993: A group of about 100 students, most of them Latinos, fed up with the vandalism to Martinez's piece, demonstrate on the quad and form a blockade around the structure. Later they march to Day Hall to demand a meeting with President Frank H. Rhodes. Rhodes, however, is out of town and other administrators refuse to pencil in an appointment without his approval. The sit in begins.

November 20, 1993: Sit-in continues; two Cornell police officers suffer minor injuries in a brief melee when dozens of students charge into Day Hall. Students release a list of eight demands, including more courses in Latino-American history, the purchase of more library resources about Latino culture and History and a fund to bring visiting Latino professors to the university, while trying to recruit tenure track Latino professors.

November 21, 1993: Rhodes, who cut short his trip to Philadelphia, tries to get the students to leave the building, but they refuse to speak with him. The University initiates suspension proceedings for roughly 70 students.

November 22, 1993: Sit-in ends at about 2:30 PM; Rhodes agrees to a series of meetings with student leaders.

November 30, 1993: At the first in a series of meetings between administrators and students, students propose a Latino Living Center space set aside in a Residence Hall on campus dedicated to the study of Latino Culture.

March 18, 1994: Cornell's board of trustees approves the Latino Living Center.

August 1994: Latino Living Center opens in the basement of the Class of '22 Hall on West Campus.

August 2000: The Latino Living Center moves to North Campus. Anna Comstock House becomes our home.

2009: West Campus completed and the Program House review begins.


The Latino Living Center (LLC) has, and will continue to, build socially conscious and community-minded individuals. Our goals have been, and still are, to provide knowledge of our culture and the problems facing Latinxs so that the future leaders of our communities will be prepared with the skills and sensitivity necessary to effect social change.

The LLC has aimed to attract more Latinx students to Cornell University, thus enabling more students to complete academic programs. Through a philosophy of openness and inclusiveness, the LLC moved forward increasing student leadership and support, multicultural competency, and awareness of the spectrum of Latinx cultures.

By combining the values in the LLC Common Bond and Housing & Residential Life Programmatic Learning Objectives they will ideally act as a guide for the actions and decisions of individuals as they interact with and support each other, as well as other communities on campus.

This extends to the both in and out of house members of the LLC and affiliated students, staff, and faculty. We are not just members of these communities, but representatives as well.