DePaul celebrates Latinx Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month kicked off across the U.S. on Sunday, Sept. 15 to celebrate the contributions and cultural traditions of the Latinx community. Cities around the country are honoring the September independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile with events that aim to highlight Latinx heritage.

DePaul was no different, with The Office of Multicultural Student Success hosting a Latinx Meet and Greet event on the Arts and Letters patio last Monday. Students were able to meet different Latinx student organizations, professional staff and faculty members working in the Latin American and Latino Studies department.

“As student organizations, we’re working on creating a lot of events for our community,” said Robbie Merkel, president of DePaul Alliance for Latinx Empowerment (DALE). “We are so excited to welcome new students and the Meet and Greet was just one of the ways we wanted to do that.”

The Latinx Cultural Center, in partnership with cultural student organizations and the Latin American and Latino Studies department, is working to bring more awareness to the DePaul community about the many different events happening during Latinx Heritage Month and ways students can get involved. With the center’s creation of an events calendar, this awareness is accessible.

“We heard from students in our focus groups that they wanted to find that sense of community with other Latinx students,” said Monica Ramos, coordinator of the Latinx Cultural Center. “So, our main goal was to create a space where students felt welcomed and empowered to be themselves. The next step was to continue building upon that.”

The Latinx student population at DePaul has been increasing over the years. The 2018 Enrollment Summary reported that 16 percent of the student population identified as Latinx, a 2 percent increase from 2014. It’s become a trend across all universities in the country. The U.S. Department of Education ​reported ​that between 2000 and 2015, the Latinx population in universities more than doubled to 3 million students. This increase brings into question whether or not universities are finding ways to provide resources and support the growing Latinx student population.

“It can still feel pretty lonely out there and we need community now more than ever,” said Nathan Gutierrez, executive vice president for equity and diversity in DePaul’s Student Government Association. “Get involved, find a community that feels right to you and reach out to people. There are so many student organizations willing to open their doors for you.”

Cities like ​Los Angeles and ​New York City announced a list of events that highlight the cultural traditions of Latin American countries. In Chicago, the ​Tribune reported on a mural that was unveiled near the neighborhood of Hermosa commemorating the service of the Borinqueneers, a Puerto Rican infantry regiment that participated in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Additionally, the Taste of Clark Street is set to happen on Sunday, Sept. 20 in Rogers Park to highlight the diversity in dining for Latinx Heritage Month.