UNO provides the cultural enrichment events, it’s up to Latino students to take part

Photo courtesy of Gennesis Guzmán.
Contributor Gennesis Guzmán responds to an article previously published in The Gateway and calls for more Latino students to be involved with campus organizations.

Gennesis Guzmán

The following article is a response to the article UNO drops the ball on Latinx student and cultural engagement.

My name is Gennesis Guzmán, I am a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, I am currently pursuing a double major within the College of Education. I am very passionate about student involvement, volunteer work and am very involved in student organizations.

Throughout my time here at UNO, I have volunteered at several multicultural events on campus and in the community. I have attended various events for many organizations and cultures and have witnessed great turn outs. As a Latina, I have noticed that not many Latino students attend the events. This sparked a fire in me, to become more involved and try to attract more students to these events, especially when they are about the Latino culture. These events are free, and provide lots of knowledge and resources. There is clearly a need for more Latino student involvement and leadership on campus.

These were all factors that pushed me to become involved. I have noticed that being involved with the American Multicultural Student Agency (AMS), has provided me the opportunity to make a difference on our campus. It truly is an uphill battle, but the battle is not in organizing these events, funding, marketing or booking speakers. What takes hard work and dedication is getting students to attend these events.

As Latino students, we have been too lax in our participation and involvement in the growing Latino community at the University. UNO Latino students have the potential of organizing amazing events, we just have to be involved and be the change that we so desperately wish to see. Our culture has so much to offer, it is diverse and colorful. This is a stark contrast and doesn’t represent the students that show up to any other given event, show up mi gente!

There are lots of ways to contribute and be involved. OLLAS has Cinemateca and Charlas, which have remarkable turn outs. They also collaborate with Multicultural Affairs, which also has various events throughout the year. Association of Latino American Students (ALAS) recently collaborated with AMS and hosted an event to commemorate Cesar E. Chavez Day. The event had a wonderful line up of activities, speakers, workshops and food. We were very excited for the day as 80+ students had RSVP’d.  The day came and barely one fourth of the students were present. Why is that, why didn’t students show up?

We must give praise to all the hard work that current students from student organizations, agencies and departments are doing and putting in. Especially, for getting the ball rolling on events for our Latino UNO community. As students, we must acknowledge the importance of these events, we must take the initiative to attend and support our community. Of course, there is always work and assignments to be done, but we also must make the time to support our Latino brothers and sisters. There is a saying that goes “If you can’t be trusted in the small amount of responsibilities that is given to you, how can you be trusted in the big amount of responsibilities?” This statement is true; if we as students, are not attending the educational workshops and historical events hosted by our organizations that represent Latinos, how can UNO fund and trust us for the cultural concerts, festivals, and dances? It only shows UNO that we only care to have fun rather than the educational experiences as well; there needs to be a balance.

We must leave UNO a better place and leave a legacy for those incoming students. The future of UNO will have many more Latino students to come. We must thank the staff and the volunteers that attend meetings for new events and for the budgets that support these events.

AMS is a vehicle for the voice of ALL students, it is an open place where students can come with their ideas and turn them into actions. If the problem is time and place, we would like to hear about different suggestions. We can acknowledge that in the past years there has been an under representation of Latinos students at events, but this was not due to a lack of effort from our staff, faculty, and students organizing the events. As a communal group of multicultural students, we must take the initiative to attend these events, to have our voices heard, and to use all the resources available to enrich our time at UNO.

We cannot compare our community of multicultural students to those of other universities, we must focus on bettering our own community. UNO needs the students to take an initiative to change this, it takes time and commitment, but the reward is grand.

There are many ways to become part of the solution, advocate for the events if you cannot show up. If you can attend, lead by example and become involved. This is not an issue with our student organizations or campus departments. It does no good to criticize the efforts of others if you are not actively doing something to solve that which you are criticizing. If you do not feel like you can be part of the solution, do not be part of the problem. My fellow Mavericks, I invite you to join me and be the change that you want to see. Go Mavs!