UI Latinx/a/o Heritage Month celebrates identity

Latinx/a/o Heritage Month started on Sunday and continue into October with many new events and opportunities. The events are based on student reflections from past years and their input.


Tate Hildyard

Latino Native American Cultural Center Student Lead Isabela Flores Lead presents a Latinx sticker in the Latino Native American Cultural Center on Sunday, September 19th, 2019. The Latino Native American Cultural Center is putting on multiple new events that span across different departments at the UI for graduate and undergraduate students.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Latino Native American Cultural Center is focusing on rebranding its celebrations of identity by including student voices. 

Latinx/a/o Heritage Month began Sunday with the first of 14 main events with a new look for students participating this fall. The celebration will run through Nov. 2 with Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead.”

The festivities are based on students, members of the celebration’s organizational team said, and every event that the center hosts received input from someone wanting to see something different in the festivities. 

“This summer we engaged with students, even though they weren’t on campus, through our Instagram by asking questions to have them tell us what they liked in the past for programming and what ideas they had for this year,” said Isabela Flores, the student lead at the center.

Social media provides an outlet for feedback on these events, Flores said. She mentioned that the center has opened channels for people to make suggestions and interact through the virtual community the center has built.

Thomas A. Arce, the coordinator of UI Multicultural and International Student Support and Engagement, said there are new activities this year that aim to bring awareness to individuals who identify with both the Latinx community and other communities. 

“In the spring, we had an event around queer Latinx identities that was led by students, and we saw that they wanted more opportunities to express the intersections of their identities,” Arce said. “So, I’m excited for ‘Queer Latinidad: Our Stories,’ which was created out of the spring event.”

Flores said she is excited for additional events that will bring awareness to what education looks like for the Latinx community. She highlighted the event “Fuerza en la Educación: Graduate School 101.” 

“Students last semester asked for a graduate-school event because it’s critical to see Latinx people in higher education,” Flores said. “This event has the potential to instill a lot of inspiration into the student body.”

Jose Muñiz Jr., a center programming assistant, said in an email to The Daily Iowan that these events try to create a sense of belonging for students. 

“The events this month are open to everyone and anyone who wants to attend and learn, not just Latinx/a/o individuals on campus,” Muñiz said. “Latinx Heritage Month brings the entire community together and helps us show support for all underrepresented students on campus.” 

Many student organizations outside of the cultural center will be involved with the heritage month this fall, Arce said, including Latinx sororities and fraternities on campus. This was crucial in bringing awareness to specific events and involving more students in the planning process than ever before, he added.

 “Bringing all of these student organizations into spaces together amplifies the center and the community,” Flores said. “We springboard these organizations and increase awareness.” 

Flores emphasized the presence of Latinx students on campus. According to fall 2018 UI enrollment data, 6.8 percent of undergraduate students identify as Hispanic/Latinx.

Arce said, Latinx/a/o Heritage Month is about celebrating people’s identities and who they are as individuals and a community.

“Celebrating your own identity and being prideful, as well as celebrating among and with a community, is what we’re doing here,” Arce said. “Our intention is to come together and celebrate.”