University of Detroit Mercy

09/27/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/27/2023 08:57

Meet the Latinx Student Union: Supporting Hispanic and others students

From time to time, Detroit Mercy's Marketing & Communications highlights student organizations on the University's McNichols Campus. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15, we have selected Latinx Student Union.

University of Detroit Mercy's recently reestablished Latinx Student Union (LSU) kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with a traditional carne asada cookout on Sept. 15.

The BBQ, held outside of Shiple Hall, brought together students of all backgrounds to share a meal while enjoying friendly games of kickball and volleyball, music and desserts, including cholados, which are a Colombian version of a snow cone.

President Cristal Guzmán, a Political Science major who is in the accelerated 6-Year Law Program, restarted the only Latin community club at Detroit Mercy after it went dormant during the pandemic.

Guzmán initiated the official renaming of the club, from Latinx Student Association to Latinx Student Union, and has established consistency and improved communication among club members themselves and their interactions on the UDM campus.

"We hope to continue not only having fun social gatherings like the carne asada, but also networking events to help our members thrive in professional fields where we lack representation," said Guzmán.

The Latinx Student Union members understands the anxiety and confusion that attending college brings, especially for first-generation students who cannot rely on their parents or older family members. Most of the members of LSU are first -generation students, and many have also experienced the difficulties of being a minority in all parts of their life. While providing community and representation for Latin students, the club prides itself on being fully inclusive to anyone needing a helping hand or a safe place.

Secretary Mariana Gonzalez, a Biology major and ReBUILDetroit scholar, grew up in New Boston and attended the Huron School District as one of the few people of color. Considering the proximity of the Southwest Detroit community, which is mostly Latin descent, Gonzalez spoke about the need for a change in environment and how she chose the McNichols Campus to be closer to more familiar roots.

"I was initially upset to see that there weren't any clubs for the Latin students on campus," Gonzalez said. "I was so excited to join and rebuild the club with Cristal when she brought up the idea."

This year's emphasis is on the diversity within the Latin community and the club's interactions within the Detroit Mercy community.

"We all do not look the same. The Latin community includes Mexico, Cuba, the Caribbean; we come in all types of colors, each with its own uniqueness and languages," said Elizabeth Barba-Villa, vice president of LSU. "Many grow up feeling like an imposter. We want to bring about Latin representations in all walks of life … without representation how do you expect to see yourself in those shoes?"

About 26% of the students enrolled at Detroit Mercy are minorities as of 2022. As the diversity within the University increases, LSU welcomes everyone who wants to learn more by offering a safe place for questions or concerns.

"Having a sense of community encourages and ensures that I have what it takes to achieve my goals and further my education," said Gonzalez.

As one of the few Latin students in STEM, the goal among the LSU members is to not only become a representative for the Latin Community themselves, but to also engage with other members who are working in their chosen career.

The Latinx Student Union currently meets biweekly, on Tuesdays or Thursdays, in the Lower Level of the Student Union. The time for each meeting varies, so students are encouraging to follow up weekly for more information.

Events such as Español 101, a beginner's class of the Spanish language, and the Equilaw Campaign, which is aimed at diversifying the legal field and helping students of the path to law school, are upcoming this semester.

Students interested in joining Detroit Mercy's Latinx Student Union can find more information and links to social media platforms on its Detroit Mercy Live webpage. Follow the Latinx Student Union on Instagram at @udm.latinxstudentunion.

- By Marketing & Communications student intern Zahra Albdair