Students celebrate diverse Hispanic culture

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the various cultures of Central and South America.Constance Atton | Lariat Photographer
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the various cultures of Central and South America.
Constance Atton | Lariat Photographer

By Sergio Legorreta
Reporter

To observe National Hispanic Heritage Month, student organizations at Baylor have joined together to organize events for the fourth consecutive year to spread awareness of Hispanic culture and celebrate its diversity.

Sept. 15, which marks Central America’s Independence Day, was the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The month’s tradition dates back to 1968 when president Lyndon Johnson approved Hispanic Heritage Week, which was expanded to a month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, according to the Library of Congress’ website.

Richmond senior Cassandra Gutierrez, president of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, said Hispanic Heritage Month allows her to feel at home when she’s away from home, with people she doesn’t know.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is about coming back to my roots,” Gutierrez said. “And finding my home.”

The events kicked off Monday with members handing out pieces of festive red-and-yellow-frosted cake in the Bill Daniel Student Center. Members also gathered Tuesday to watch “Cesar Chavez,” a biopic about the Latin-American civil rights activist by the same name.
Cypress senior Thalina Garcia, chair of Hispanic Heritage Month at Baylor, said a recent video of a college student belittled for speaking Spanish and having an accent prompted a stereotype discussion forum, which will take place the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, 7:30-9 p.m. Oct. 15, in the den inside the student center.

Other events include a service day, a tailgate event , a potluck and a banquet to close out Hispanic Heritage Month, on Oct. 22, a week after it ends.

“It’s a month to spread awareness about Latino culture in the United States,” Garcia said.

Gutierrez also said one of her goals is to increase cultural awareness, because Latinos aren’t necessarily seen a lot at Baylor.

The term Latino refers to the diverse groups of people and races from Spanish-speaking cultures, including, among others, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians and Mexicans. The theme for this year’s events is “United Through Diversity,” a fact Garcia said she wanted to show through Hispanic Heritage Month events.

“It’s a mixture of a lot of cultures, not just one,” Garcia said. “We just want to show the different cultures of Latinos, because I know that Latin America is a huge continent, People aren’t just Mexican, there’s different cultures and they’re rich cultures and they’re very diverse and not the same.”

The next event is a game night when attendees can play Loteria, a Mexican game of chance similar to bingo. Loteria Night will be from 7-9 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center.

“Come out and embrace different cultures,” Garcia said. “It’s for the Baylor community. So, anyone is welcome to come and be participating in the discussion, We want diversity. It’s not just Latinos who are going to be voicing their opinions. We want the Baylor community to be voicing their opinions.”

More information about Hispanic Heritage Month and its events can be found at http://www.baylor.edu/multicultural/index.php?id=91993.