New organization brings cultural awareness

by Steffi Lee

Students have rolled out a new organization on campus to promote diversity.

Called Latinos Unidos, the organization’s effort is to expand knowledge on the Latino culture on Simpson College’s campus.

“We have Multicultural Student Alliance (MSA), which provides a lot of diversity to campus, but I like having more than just one organization on campus,” sophomore Ulices Flores said.

Flores is Latino Unidos’ president and said he got the idea for the organization from other colleges such as Lake Forest University and Howard University.

“Big schools have certain organizations for different types of cultures,” he said.

Flores said he garnered interest from other students who were also interested in keeping students aware of diversity on campus.

“Simpson has the retention rate issue of losing a lot of multicultural students in their first year,” Flores said. “I was on the verge of actually not coming back to Simpson for that same reason.”

The reason he cites is problem a lot of small colleges in the Midwest face – he felt the lack of diversity.

“At a big school, you can find that type of diversity,” Flores said.

Flores, however, found Latinos Unidos to be the start of his solution.

“I don’t want (the freshmen) to leave,” he said. “I want to provide more diversity opportunities for more students and for other people to learn about the different cultures.”

He said one of the reasons why he’s here is because of his mentor in Student Support Services, Marzia Corni-Benson. She told him if he left, he wouldn’t be contributing to the diversity efforts at Simpson. 

Junior Maria Gonzalez is the vice president of Latinos Unidos and said she hopes Latinos Unidos serves as an educational organization.

“We’re trying to stay away from the stereotypes and we’re trying to bring diversity and culture to Simpson,” she said.

Gonzalez hopes Latinos Unidos can be an engagement tool for Latino students from the United States and international Latino students.

Latinos Unidos’ first event was on Wednesday, Sept. 18 inside Pfeiffer Dining Hall. Titled “Taking Over Pfeiffer,” the group served Latin food such as chorizo, enchiladas, tacos and fajitas.

“We had great success,” Flores said. “We fed over 300 people at Pfeiffer.”

Latinos Unidos is currently focusing on Heritage Month, which lasts for a month between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15. The group is collaborating with MSA to extend Salsa Night with other types of Latin dancing, such as Bachata.

To promote different cultural holidays, Latinos Unidos is also looking to hold an event for Dia De Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

“We’re planning to put out some types of skulls for people to put in their dorms because I know people love putting things up in their dorms,” Flores said.

Flores said Latinos Unidos will hold more fundraiser events and movie nights as well to help students understand the issue of diversity better.