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UCLA holds Latinx Welcome event in efforts to promote inclusivity

UCLA hosted students in Wilson Plaza Tuesday afternoon for the first ever campuswide Latinx Welcome event, titled “Sembrando Comunidad.” (Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin staff)

By Shaanth Kodialam

Oct. 4, 2022 10:23 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 5 at 3:36 p.m.

Hundreds of Bruins gathered at Wilson Plaza for the first ever campuswide Latinx Welcome event Tuesday.

The 2022 Latinx Welcome: “Sembrando Comunidad” was a historic, campuswide culmination of efforts to promote inclusivity at UCLA and was open to all students, said Alfred Herrera, assistant vice provost for academic partnerships. The event – which hosted a variety of academic departments, programs and student organizations – also helped further UCLA’s commitment to becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution by 2025, he said.

The HSI designation requires UCLA to have at least 25% of students identify as Latinx and would allow UCLA to receive federal grants to support educational programs and Latinx communities on campus, according to an announcement from Chancellor Gene Block.

[Related: The Stack: Exploring UCLA’s journey to becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution]

The high level of engagement and turnout for the Latinx Welcome was exciting, Herrera said. He added that it is important for students to find faculty that represent them in higher education.

“One of the things we find is that students that come from communities of color, first-gen and so forth, don’t always feel welcome on campus in various spaces,” Herrera said. “(We want to) really show them that we’re here, we care, and we’re interested in their success.”

Organizations such as Latinas Guiding Latinas, Hermanas Unidas de UCLA and Grupo Folklórico de UCLA also hosted booths at the event, and mariachi performers provided live music.

Jenny Ortega, a fourth-year sociology transfer student, said the celebration made her feel seen and appreciated at UCLA, an institution of predominantly white and Asian students. Many Latino students face social and economic barriers when they arrive at UCLA, she added.

Ortega also said the HSI label shows that UCLA is making important progress in representation, adding that UCLA admitted a large number of Hispanic students last year.

“It’s cool to be part of that history but also know that we still have a long way to go as an institution,” she said. “This event itself means a lot.”

Ariana Diaz, a fourth-year Chicana and Chicano studies and sociology transfer student, said she came to Tuesday’s event to spend time with her friends and feel community on campus. Diaz also said she appreciated the mariachi band and food provided at the event.

Coming to events like the Latinx Welcome allowed Diaz to embrace her culture, she said, adding she appreciates UCLA’s efforts to make its programming more inclusive and representative of its student body.

Annalis Soto, a fourth-year neuroscience student, said she came to the welcome event to find other Latinos on campus, adding that in STEM fields, she often finds it difficult to connect with other students from her community.

“It’s important to see yourself in higher education,” Soto said. “Without that, students might be discouraged to go to certain campuses, so I think it’s really great that UCLA’s stepping up and making their campus inclusive.”

Miranda Solis, a third-year art history transfer student, said it was important for her to find people with a shared culture as she came to UCLA.

Fourth-year psychology student Madisen Ruelas said her professor – who teaches about Latinx communities and families’ mental health – encouraged her students to come to the event rather than attend class. She said she appreciated seeing her community have spaces on campus.

“I’ve already talked to a few people here saying, ‘Hey, I just haven’t felt like I’ve met people that are in my community,’” Ruelas said. “Events like this are super helpful to meet people with similar backgrounds and just make more connections.”

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Shaanth Kodialam | News senior staff
Kodialam is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. They were previously the 2022-2023 features and student life editor and a 2021-2022 News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a third-year communication and geography student.
Kodialam is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. They were previously the 2022-2023 features and student life editor and a 2021-2022 News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a third-year communication and geography student.
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