September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This week, we’d like to tell you about Texas Tech’s Hispanic Student Society (HSS) and our University Archive’s collection of its records. The collection contains details about the association’s activities from 1978 to 2006, including financial materials, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes, membership rosters, posters, one scrapbook, and over 100 photographs.
In 1964, the Mexican-American organization of Los Tertulianos, which means “the Social Gatherers,” became Texas Tech University’s first student organization composed of minority students. Socializing was a key element of their daily routine, as was encouraging, supporting, and embracing their individual quest for a college degree. A natural progression of its their at an academic institution, students via the association promoted the importance of education, spoke out on social causes, and left a legacy for others to emulate.
By the early 1970s, Los Tertulianos had assimilated into the University and yet maintained an independent voice. They participated in intramural sports, handcrafted Homecoming floats (their entry won the 1967 Sweepstakes Award,) sponsored a Homecoming Queen, and held an educational seminar for Mexican American high school students. Change in the status quo is never easy, and some viewed Los Tertulianos as militant. Undaunted, the organization continued maturing, and with each new class new challenges were faced and overcome.
At some point the association lost focus, so in 1980 the students refocused and became more active on the social issues front. They renamed the organization the United Mexican-American Students (UMAS.) Like the rising phoenix, this rebirth signaled resurgence in their quest for knowledge of self and heritage. UMAS maintained a foothold on the traditional collegiate experience tempered with a palatable Mexican American flair.
The next generation of Mexican Americans students decided to remake the group in their own image and created the Hispanic Student Society (HSS). HSS continues to promote education, find avenues of academic support, and contribute to our community.
– Daniel Sanchez, Oral Historian at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.