EDITOR'S NOTE: Eastern Michigan University's 15,000 students arrive in Ypsilanti from 50 states, and 83 countries, bringing with them diverse cultures and backgrounds. This series explores that diversity by featuring campus organizations designed to highlight and share the beauty of cultures from around the world.
Last week: International Student Association
This week: Latinx Student Association
Next week: African Student Association
Eastern Michigan University’s Latinx Student Association, founded in 2016, hopes to gain more visibility for Hispanic and Latino students on campus.
Similar to other cultural organizations at EMU, LSA is not just for Latinx students, but is open for anyone to participate and learn more about the unique aspects of the specific culture.
“It’s a great way to bring awareness to the Latino community, you don’t necessarily have to be Latino to be a part of it,” Josh Alarcon, marketing and recruitment chair of LSA, said. “It’s just a way to bring awareness, diversity and just like acceptance within the community, so it’s just a great way to engage with us.”
Alarcon, along with Fundraising Chair Ahrianna Nogueras, both have the goal to create a larger voice for the Latino community on EMU’s campus and get more people involved with the organization all around.
“We just really want to promote different diversities and just cultures on campus and I feel like a Hispanic culture is not really seen throughout campus so much and we’re very in the shadows,” Nogueras said. “We just wanna really step out and be loud and proud and teach people who we are.”
Alongside Alarcon and Nogueras, the remaining executive board members of LSA include President Erasmo Martinez, Vice President Gracie Esquivel, Treasurer Yesica Valdez Urbieta, Social Event Chair Yissel Valdez Urbieta, Social Justice Chair David Ayala and Community Service Chair Aimee Gutierrez.
LSA’s members hosted Latin Night on Oct. 4, which included dancing lessons, music, snacks and more to help bring the campus community back together as the new school year begins.
“Something unique about Latin culture is that we’re all music and food oriented,” Nogueras said.
As Latin culture revolves heavily around music and food, both pieces are a part of every LSA event. The turnout for LSA’s events this year has already been more than in the past, but the organization wants to continue growing as the year continues.
On Oct. 27, LSA is hosting a Dia De Los Muertos event at Big Bob’s Lake House from 7-9 p.m. in collaboration with Campus Life and the Multicultural Greek Council.
The Dia De Los Muertos, or ‘Day of the Dead’ event is a celebration of life and death. LSA will be celebrating and remembering the lives of those who have passed and be learning the history of the cultural holiday though games, music, food, activities and more.
Students at the event will also get to view and create ofrendas, which are offerings placed in homes in a large altar setting during the traditional Mexican holiday to memorialize a person who has died.
The event will be a way to bring not only the Hispanic and Latino community on campus together, but anyone of any background at EMU who wants to join and learn.
Embracing culture is a large part of every LSA event and is Alarcon’s favorite part about being a member of the organization.
"I do come from a very heavily populated Latino community in Orlando, so I didn’t really experience that here, but being a part of LSA has definitely helped me," Alarcon said. “It’s just a great way to embrace your culture and find your people.”
Nogueras feels the same and said that her friends at EMU previous to joining LSA were not Hispanic, so being a part of the association has helped her be around similar people.
“My favorite part is it’s nice having people that are like me around, it is very hard not having more Hispanics. It’s nice to be able to be around your people,“ Nogueras said. "LSA does a really nice job at including everybody.”
Currently, it is Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15, celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
“Since it’s Hispanic Heritage Month this month, I don’t think I’ve seen anything from Eastern being posted,” Alarcon said. “Definitely at least an encouragement and just embrace and acknowledge that there are Hispanic and Latino students that attend Eastern, so that would be great and to better understand that they have our backs.”
Hispanic Heritage Month’s 2022 theme is "Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,“ something that LSA strives to represent every year in new ways.
“I feel like [learning about different cultures] is important because it makes you a better well rounded individual and I feel like it helps you cater to other people's needs and feelings, have a better understanding of what people think the way they do, their actions or the way they are,“ Nogueras said.
As an EMU student, attending events put on by LSA is a great way to learn about this history and the diversity not only on campus, but throughout the nation as a whole.