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Panel at El Centro will feature trailblazing Class of 1973 Stanford Graduates

The article below uses the term “Chicano,” a popular identifier for Mexican Americas at that time. A more diverse Latino student population did not begin until the mid-1970s

Fifty years ago, the “Chicano Trailblazer Class” graduated from Stanford, then the largest number by far. It signified a dramatic transformation from a nearly all-white student body at the Farm to a more racially and ethnically diverse university. Many accomplishments of that Class of 1973 became permanent fixtures at Stanford.

Four members of that incoming class of 1969 will describe their experiences during Stanford’s start of affirmative action at a Reunion panel on Saturday, October 21 at El Centro Chicano y Latino. The panel, open to all, will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Graduating from Stanford was not the sole goal of the incoming 1969 class of 71 freshmen. They pushed the Administration for key changes, such as the establishment of Casa Zapata, that would make Stanford a more welcoming university for Latinos. At the same time, African American students made demands that led to establishment of Ujamaa House.  

The panelists are:

  • Hilda Cantú, originally from San Antonio, is a practicing attorney who has served as City Attorney in Fresno and other nearby cities.  She was founder of Stanford’s first Latina organization, and she and others went to Washington, D.C. in protest of the Vietnam War  
  • Reymundo Espinoza, from Coachella, Calif., is CEO of Gardner Heath Services of San Jose. He was active on campus in MEChA, ballet folklorico and the grape boycott in support of Cesar Chávez’ UFW.
  • Dolores Reveles, of Oakland, is a retired executive of Girl Scouts of Northern California. At Stanford, she led organizing for the first Semana de la Raza and was among founders of La Chicana Colectiva. 
  • David Stephens, of El Paso, a PhD who teaches students with special needs in the Mission District of San Francisco. He was the lead student negotiator with the administration for a Chicano-oriented dorm, which later became known as Casa Zapata
  • Frank O. Sotomayor (M.A., 1967 will make opening remarks. He chronicled this period of transformation 1967-74) in his new book, The Dawning of Diversity: How Chicanos Helped Change Stanford University.

With many other Mexican America students who helped in different projects, the Class of 1973’s accomplishments include:  

  1. Getting funds to help operate MEChA and to start Chicanismo newspaper. 
  2. Joining in on a program started with their own recruitment in 1969 by serving as recruiters for incoming classes.
  3. Pushing for creation of a Chicano house (“La Casa”), their campus home away from home, and the predecessor to El Centro Chicano y Latino.
  4. Initiating Chicano-oriented classes taught by Latino grad students.
  5. Advocating successfully for more Chicano/Latino professors.
  6. Starting a volunteer Barrio Assistance Program to benefit residents of East Palo Alto, offering tutoring for students and an array of help for families.
  7. With Mexican American students from the next incoming classes, they help found El Ballet Folklorico de Stanford. 
  8. Introducing East Coast-oriented faculty and administrators to Mexican American culture.

In many ways, the Class of 1973 established a solid foundation for future Latino students. As the four panelists will describe, the students showed the Administration they could be successful academically while they took positive steps to make Stanford a more inclusive and better university. 

The class was aided and its projects facilitated by Luis Nogales, Assistant to the Stanford President; Félix Gutiérrez, Assistant Dean of Students, and his wife, María Gutiérrez, Financial Aid cCunselor, and Robert Anchondo, chief student recruiter and activist. This panel is a tribute to their work. 

A set of period photographs will be on display Saturday at El Centro. It was organized by alum José Peralez and largely features the photographs of alum Alfonso Villanueva. 

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