By Sally Ann Moyer
Baylor now has its own division of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
After three weeks of preparation, LULAC became an official Baylor organization at the end of last week and will have its national charter as an official council by the end of this week.
Sulphur Springs sophomore Victor Gonzalez, president of Baylor’s LULAC chapter, wanted Baylor to have a different type of Hispanic organization.
“On campus there’s lots of Hispanic organizations, but it’s become a show and tell where they only celebrate heritage,” Gonzalez said.
He was drawn to LULAC because of its focus on educational advocacy.
“They’re big on advocacy, Hispanic rights and education,” Gonzalez said. “They help pass immigrant legislation and laws.”
Dallas sophomore Karla Coleman, LULAC’s internal vice president, first discovered LULAC when applying for scholarships as an incoming Baylor student.
“I was really intrigued by it, and I found a LULAC in Dallas. But didn’t get plugged into it when I came to Waco,” she said.
Gonzalez mentioned the idea of forming a Baylor chapter to Coleman at the beginning of this year.
“I was really excited about it because I thought it was a fun idea,” Coleman said.
Plano freshman Sonia Sandoval, external vice president of LULAC, has been a LULAC member for the past three years and wanted to establish a council at Baylor.
“When I came to Baylor, that was my goal. And Victor found me through Facebook, and that’s how we started telling people and friends,” Sandoval said.
Baylor LULAC officers also met with other Baylor Hispanic organizations and hopes to partner with them for future events, including a voter registration drive in March.
“One of the main things we’re focusing on is raising awareness and getting rid of immigrant misconceptions,” Gonzalez said.
The council plans to bring awareness about higher education to the Hispanic community at Baylor and beyond through on-campus speakers and a partnership with University High School in Waco.
“There are a lot of high school students who aren’t aware of how to go to college,” Sandoval said. “They hear about the possibility of going to college, but a lot of them don’t have the resources or don’t have any idea about what to do.”
Baylor LULAC plans to host higher education information sessions to help with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, applying for scholarships and explaining the general college admission process.
“A lot of students don’t realize they can attend school regardless of legal status,” Gonzalez said.
They chose University High because of its relatively large Hispanic population.
“University High has a very high Hispanic community there that either doesn’t graduate or doesn’t go to college,” Coleman said. “And we want to do things for the Hispanic community.”
Baylor LULAC will host a series of speakers in April, including an employee of the state education department and a past national LULAC president.
“We want to bring out awareness on issues with the Hispanic community that most people don’t know about,” Sandoval said.
This includes the DREAM Act, a piece of bipartisan legislation that would create a path to legal residency for undocumented youth brought to the United States before the age of 16 who complete high school and two years of college education or serve in the military.
Amanda Ramirez, coordinator of multicultural recruitment and admissions counselor, serves as Baylor’s LULAC chapter’s faculty sponsor.
Baylor LULAC already has 23 members and is still recruiting. The first official meeting will occur at 6:30 p.m. March 16 with the location still to be determined.