I was walking on campus yesterday and saw a banner celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which I hadn’t known about before. It turns out that Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t a single calendar month but actually crosses from September 15 to October 15, so today is the last day. I’m happy I can squeak this in!
There has been a significant Hispanic presence at Rice dating all the way back to before the opening. We have payroll records in the Woodson that make it clear that much of the hard manual labor of site preparation and landscaping was carried out by crews of Hispanic workers, the kind of hard work that they have continued to do here over the decades. (Go here for one remarkable example and here for another.) There have also been Hispanic students at Rice almost from its very beginning, although in very small numbers and for many years nearly always from quite high socio-economic backgrounds, often the children of diplomats. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the numbers began to grow, slowly at first, and Hispanic students from a broader variety of backgrounds were granted admission in more significant numbers.
This article from the September 20, 1972 Houston Post marks what I believe is the formation of the first organization for Hispanic students at Rice:
And a glorious picture of a very young Professor Richard Tapia meeting near Lovett Hall with the officers of the group. Beautiful 1970s hair all the way around:
Bonus: Unidos podemos, y’all.