Alicia Dye | News Editor
Sept. 29, 2022
With Hispanic music blaring and the smell of Venezuelan food filling the room, it was hard for students to not have a good time at Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff.
The kickoff, held by Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), marked the first of many planned events on campus for Hispanic Heritage month, which takes place from Sept. 15 until Oct. 15.
The Heritage event started as a week, but became a month-long celebration after President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1988. Sept 15 is the starting point because it is the anniversary of the Cry of Dolores, which marked the start of the Mexican War of Independence and resulted in independence for the New Spain Colony (now Mexico and the Central American nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua) which became the Federal Republic of Central America at the time.
Marie Sullivan joined SACNAS when she was a freshman and is now the president of the organization. Sullivan wants everyone to learn about different Hispanic cultures.
“I’m Cuban, and I have a lot of pride in my culture,” Sullivan said. “A lot of people don’t know about Hispanic Heritage month and we want everyone to learn.”
“We want everybody to be able to learn something,” Sullivan said. “There are so many different Hispanic cultures and it’s impossible to know everything about each of them, but during Hispanic Heritage, we want to highlight a lot of those cultures and want everyone to learn a little bit of each.”
For Bella Deborah Uwase, she wants to support all cultures even though she is not Hispanic.
“I was invited to this event by my friends, and I thought ‘why not?’,” Uwase said. “They showed up for Black History Month and supported us, so I wanted to support them.”
During the event, students played different games including dominoes and Lotería, a Mexican game similar to bingo. Students who won the games received a prize from SACNAS, including t-shirts and some other Duquesne gear.
For transfer student Paola Adorno, SACNAS and other clubs holding Hispanic Heritage month events, means a lot.
“I get to meet a lot of people,” Adorno said. “Coming to a new school was scary, but events like this allow me to meet other people who speak Spanish and share a similar cultural background as me.”
The kickoff event is the only event SACNAS will be hosting during Hispanic Heritage Month. SACNAS hosted a movie night, renting out a theater at AMC to show “In the Heights”, free of charge to students this past weekend. SACNAS will also be hosting a Spanish speaking night, where students can learn how to speak Spanish.
“The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it,” said Sullivan. “We want anyone who wants to speak Spanish to come. You could know a little Spanish and still come.”
Sullivan works a lot with the Modern Languages and Literature department when it comes to planning events.
“A lot of our funding comes from them. They are instrumental in our events and I cannot thank them enough for everything they’ve done.” Sullivan said.
Beyond SACNAS, the Center for Migration, Displacement, and Community Studies is also hosting events for Hispanic Heritage Month, including Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month: Speaker Series: When Cooking Becomes Political, which was held Sept. 27. The next event held by the Center for Migration, Displacement, and Community Studies will be another speaker series event on Migration & Motherhood.
Uwase wants other students who aren’t Hispanic to come to the events happening throughout the month.
“This month is important because people of color get recognized,” Uwase said. “A lot of us have problems we face, and we should be supporting each other throughout all of it. It’s good to show up for others.”
Sullivan wants to reach more Hispanic students on campus, as well.
“We welcome anybody who is Latino/Hispanic and even people who aren’t,” said Sullivan. “We’re not hostile, and we welcome any culture or heritage. I know when I was a freshman I wanted to have a community and SACNAS did that for me. I want to do that for others as well.”
“Having a place where I could meet people has helped me immensely,” Adorno said. “I think anybody who likes Hispanic culture should come to the events. You don’t need to be Hispanic. It shows us that people are really listening and that they care about us.”
While SACNAS is for science students, Sullivan encourages students of any major to join.
“Not everyone needs to be a science or STEM major. A lot of the current members are not, but we welcome anyone,” Sullivan said. “We just want everyone to have a good time during their time at college.”
Many students are excited for Hispanic Heritage month, as they are able to celebrate their culture.
“It’s important to celebrate these cultures,” Sullivan said. “It’s a month of acknowledgement and celebrates important dates for so many different cultures.”
“We’re trying to encourage people to stand up for themselves. One example is we’re encouraging people to tell their professors how to say their names correctly,” Sullivan said. “It’s small things that add up.”
Uwase wants the minority population to stick together.
“We face a lot of different things here on campus,” Uwase said. “We face microaggressions and even racism sometimes. Us standing up for each other and sticking together is super important in times like these.”
Sullivan encourages everyone to learn as much as they want and to have fun during the month.
There will be more events for Hispanic Heritage month which can be found at https://duq.campuslabs.com/engage/.events.