URBANA – Fraternities and campus organizations at the University of Illinois are hoping to educate the public about Hispanic history and culture during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. are two Latino fraternities that have been working on events this month.
Jorge Vasquez is a brother of the Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc, which worked with other organizations recently to celebrate Mexican Independence Day with their annual El Grito event.
“What el Grito really is, it starts off with a recital of el Grito de Dolores, which is a speech given right before Mexico fought its final battle to earn its independence,” Vasquez said. “Followed by that, we like to ask different members of the audience what Hispanic Heritage means to them and how they like to celebrate it.”
Vasquez said that there was a better turnout compared to 2019.
Jesus Ballesteros, a brother of Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc said his organization is hosting four events throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, including educational presentations and interactive games.
“With us, we just wanted to do something a little bit more, provide a safe space,” Ballesteros said. “Going to a primarily white institution, having these events also might reach out to a different demographic that we normally don’t reach to that might want to educate themselves more on what a Latino is and what different backgrounds we might come from.”
Ballesteros says he hopes the events will create a sense of belonging for Latino students. According to UI enrollment data, Latino students make up about 11 percent of the student body at the University of Illinois Urbana campus.