Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month has begun at SIUE, and it’s continuing through mid-October with virtual events like inclusive conversations, a lotería game and Latin American cooking demonstrations.

The events are entirely virtual, but that hasn’t stopped the team from including a wide range, from educational events like “Ally Training – Best Practices: How to Better Serve Hispanic/Latinx Students in Higher Education” to recreational events like “History of la Piñata and Piñata Making.”

The events come as a result of collaboration between SIUC, SIUE and Maryville University. Director of the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion at SIUE Lindy Wagner said the COVID-19 restrictions on the events created an opportunity for this collaboration.

“Now is a better time to collaborate than any because we’re all going to be virtual anyways,” Wagner said. “My hope is that this collaboration continues. So, even as we move into post-COVID times where things are more in person, I’d love to see still maybe a couple virtual opportunities so that we can continue this collaboration.”

SIU’s Hispanic/Latino Resource Coordinator Cristina Castillo echoed Wagner’s statement by saying the virtual events allowed the universities to reach a larger audience.

“It was a great opportunity for all of us to collaborate and put our efforts together to reach out to more people and unite the campuses,” Castillo said. “We’re all in the virtual world, and I think that that has really given us the opportunity to stretch our arms.” 

This is Castillo’s third year planning Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, and when she plans events, she bases them on four components: history, culture and traditions, advocacy and contributions. She said advocacy matters to her.

“The advocacy is very important, especially in a political environment. The criminalization of Hispanic people as undocumented, or immigrants, or aliens, or the issues with our [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] students make it very important that we bring something about advocacy,” Castillo said.

Wagner said she hopes all students attend the events, not just Hispanic/Latinx people.

“It’s always important that those who identify as members of the community as well as those who do not are all a part of the celebration … A lot of times those who might think of themselves as allies aren’t always coming to everything,” Wagner said.

While the virtual events are pulling numbers in the 40s according to Castillo, there are some who might be turned off by virtual events. Junior Corporate Organizational Management Major Mary Kimberly, of Dixon, Illinois, said she wouldn’t be attending the online events.

“I don’t think I’m going to virtually attend anything … It’s a pandemic; I get it,” Kimberly said. “When everything goes online – I don’t know, I feel like it’s homework. It’s not enjoyable and I’m not connecting to people.”

Another student, junior Nursing Major Jorge Esquivel of Highwood, Illinois, said he was excited the month was being celebrated, but he was not thrilled it was online.

“I’m excited about the events because there’s not a lot of Hispanics at SIUE so people get to learn about us and they get to see our culture,” Esquivel said. “I’m a little bummed because it’s virtual, but I understand because that’s a way to keep everybody healthy.”

Wagner said she hopes people see this month of events as the start of much more coming from CSDI.

“I really hope that people see this as the beginning of some exciting history and heritage month programs for the year … I know we get really fatigued because we’re all in classes and we’re all in programs, but I just hope people choose a couple programs here and there each month to participate in,” Wagner said.

Students interested in Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month can check out the events calendar on the CSDI website.

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