Formed by two University of New Mexico students, the InteliGente car club aims to bring culture and community to campus.
“We are a community car club (created) for and by students with the goal of promoting education in New Mexico through car culture,” Dominique Rodríguez said - club co-founder and second year Ph.D. Chicana and Chicano Studies (CCS) student.
The club aims to show other students that they do not have to act a certain way in higher education, Diego Rentería said - co-founder and fourth year undergraduate CCS student.
“I don’t have to change for nobody, and that’s what we want to let these other youth know,” Rentería said. “We’re not pushing college down their throats but just letting them know that there’s a home for them there.”
The club also plans to do outreach to middle and high school students to show that there is a space for their culture on campus, Rodríguez said.
The club’s name is a play on a Spanish word, as well as a tie back to their purpose.
“We went back and forth with some names, we landed on InteliGente. We chose that cause that means intelligent in Spanish but we capitalize the ‘g’ on our plaque because we’re for the Gente, we’re for the people,” Rentería said.
Neither of the co-founders, Rentería or Rodríguez, had been in a car club previously. Rentería said that another one of their goals was to lessen the stigma surrounding car clubs.
“They are beautiful communities that support each other, uplift each other and are doing a lot. Not just for the members, but (for) our communities. And I think we want to bring that energy to (have) spaces like this for students to bring their whole selves,” Rodríguez said.
The idea for the club originated at the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies conference earlier this year when Rentería and Rodríguez were talking about classic cars. “(Rodríguez) had this idea of, ‘yo, what if there was a student UNM car club’ and then that evolved into more of a community car club,” Rentería said.
For the time being, Rodríguez and Rentería said they have no plans to charter and be officially affiliated with UNM.
“For now, we want to avoid everything that goes along with being part of the institution. I think we have more freedom to do the community engagement that we’d like to do as a community partner than as a chartered student organization,” Rodríguez said.
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The club is open to students and community members regardless of possession of a classic vehicle. Ruben Loza, CCS master student, said that he felt the car club was important for students, especially its non-institionalized community structure.
“It’s something that is important to engage in community (with) fellow students. Bringing people of color together and also having something that falls within academia, but is also a safe space,” Loza said.
The emphasis on El Gente encouraged him to join, Loza said despite the fact that he does not own a classic vehicle.
InteliGente had their first event on campus, Lobos and Lowriders, in collaboration with the Project for New Mexico Graduates of Color (PNMGC) and the UNM Student Activities Center on Sept. 20 at the Cornell Mall.
InteliGente’s next event is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 18, called “Kickback and Giveback” at the CCS Casita. Attendees will be encouraged to bring nonperishable food for families in need during the holiday season.
Marcela Johnson is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo.
Marcela Johnson is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo, and the editor-in-chief of Limina: UNM Nonfiction Review.