The Highs and the Lows of Latinx Heritage Month at SJU

Arturo Enamorado, Staff Writer

Latinx Heritage Month is a special time for many members of the Latinx community, which lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.  

It includes not just Spanish speakers, but all Latin Americans. Its start date is significant because that was when the five republics of Central America declared their independence from Spain, starting the wave of revolutions in the region.

In the past, St.  John’s University has done rather well in ensuring that there is representation for members of the Latinx community. They accomplish this by ensuring that the Kickoff and other events created by the university show the significance of our culture through food, dance and history.

Unfortunately, this LHM has seen a rather difficult start. The issue started long before the initial mix up on executing this year’s Kickoff.

This stemmed from the mixed reaction of combining the activities fair with the LHM Kickoff due to weather issues causing the former to be moved.

The issue with this year came from the restructuring of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the move to have all heritage months  operate under the newly founded office of Equity and Inclusion.

On paper this seems like a good idea. The principles of the Equity and Inclusion Office match the ideas of the heritage months’ agenda to not only create spaces that represent the individual cultural communities but also educate those not a part of them.

Unfortunately the mix up and change of the traditional organizations caused growing pains. This, matched with a severe budget cut to the OMA limiting the scope of what could be done makes an already difficult situation worse. Lastly, the fact LHM was the first of the heritage months made this new structure difficult to run smoothly. So, to answer the question if St. John’s University has represented LHM well, the answer is complicated.

In previous it has done fine, however this year it has been worse.

Perhaps the major reason is in part due to the invitation of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE) this past September and the amount of work the student- run cultural organizations had to do in order to make the heritage month visible.

The evidence in this lies in the shift from a school wide calendar of university-sponsored events and student-run events to leaving the work to be done by cultural organizations themselves. The result is a smaller audience that could help in reaching more students.

In having good intentions to shift the level of organization and funding, St. John’s has inadvertently made matters worse. However there is hope that St. John’s University does well to remember that we, the members of the Latinx community are not to be paraded for the sake of diversity.

Much like the rest of the people of color that are able to celebrate a heritage month at the University, we want a level of respect and clarity in communication as well as consistency when it comes to representation.