GV celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with events on campus

Elizabeth Schanz, Staff Writer

GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Grand Valley State University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) is hosting a series of in-person events from Sept. 30 to Nov. 3 to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. These events include two Hispanic guest speakers as well as celebrations for Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.  

These events commemorate Hispanic heritage at GVSU and in the community at large. This celebration is open to all students who want to honor and learn about the history, culture, traditions and contributions of the United State’s Latinx communities. 

Olivia Rodriguez, OMA student program assistant for Latinx initiatives and vice president of Latino Student Union, said that the events are meant to inspire students and to demonstrate success in the underrepresented communities. The speakers chosen for the event have shown success and commitment to their cultures in their careers. 

“New or returning students can expect an inclusive space to listen to Latinx voices and engage in conversation with them,” Rodriguez said. “Students can look forward to hearing about inclusive literature and learning about issues, for example, immigration status, that may affect their peers, family or friends.”

The first event of this series featured Rukia Kufakunoga, an afro-latina children’s author who discussed her debut book “Latina Looks Like Me: Latina Como Yo.” Kufakunoga actively incorporates her multicultural heritage in her writing and is also the founder of Latina Looks Like Me, an empowerment brand that aims to educate people about the diversity and beauty of the Latino culture. She hopes her book will provide representation for many children. 

The second guest speaker is Dr. William D. Lopez is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the author of “Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid.” Lopez will address the links between immigration advocacy and the Black Live Matter movement, the role of ICE, and the way in which immigration enforcement impacts health services. 

The celebration will conclude on the last day of Día de Los Muertos. This event will allow students to gather pictures of their deceased loved ones, place them on an altar in the OMA and partake in traditional Day of the Dead food. 

The celebration of cultural diversity is a year-long commitment that the OMA dedicates itself to. OMA plans year-round events celebrating the cultures of Asian and Pacific Islander, Black and African American, Latinx and Native American communities on the GVSU campus in order to create an inclusive environment for all. 

“We also host Conversations of Color that happen once a month these are open and honest discussions about race, popular culture, identity, and current events,” Thalia Guerra-Flores, OMA Assistant Director said.  

Additionally, students can partake in multicultural clubs and organizations on campus. Two of these organizations are the Latino Student Union and Laker Familia, which help students to keep in touch with the Hispanic community and heritage while at GVSU. 

“Both organizations are genuinely a family for Hispanic students and serve as support systems for Latinx students on a predominantly white campus,” Rodriguez said.

These organizations are open to all students who are interested. Students who do not identify as Hispanic are still welcome to attend Latino Student Union and participate in Hispanic Heritage events. 

“The best way to learn about the Hispanic culture is to experience it hands-on with Hispanics who are comfortable sharing their cultural upbringings,” Rodriguez said.