Café con Leche Supports Latinas of All Backgrounds

by Lindsey Galloway '07

“The word diversity is used so much, it loses its meaning,” said senior Sylvia Ruiz. “We try to remind people what it means.”

Three years ago, she and other dedicated Scripps students created Café con Leche, an organization built to support women of Latin descent and inform the campus community of issues pertaining to Latin Americans.

“There was a huge gap in terms of having a political and social outlet for Latina students,” said Ruiz, who now serves on the Café con Leche board as an admission office liaison and has also served as president and treasurer. While the Chicano/Latino Student Affairs Center was available to students, no organization existed for Latina women specifically. Scripps students began planning for one during the 2000-2001 year and finally established a full-fledged organization in fall 2001. Today, Café con Leche has 15 to 20 active members who meet biweekly to discuss issues and plan events.

The organization exists, in part, to provide support for Latinas on campus. “There can be culture shock for a lot of students when they first get here. Now there’s something here for support,” said Ruiz. Café con Leche also hosts programs to raise awareness. The group sponsored a campus program for International Day Against Violence Against Women during fall semester and also sponsors speakers and film screenings throughout the year that deal with issues relating to Latin America.

As Café con Leche, or “coffee with milk,” represents women from all different Latina backgrounds, the name of the organization is meant to reflect this purpose. Ruiz explains: “If you put a little milk in coffee, it’s a little lighter. If you put more in, it becomes even lighter. Women who identify themselves as Latina come from all backgrounds—not just one shade of color and not just one set of issues.”