LASO connects students to Latinx community

Students+gather+in+the+Library+Quad+Thursday+afternoon+to+socialize+and+meet+one+another+during+the+a+Latinx+social+event+sponsored+by+Easterns+Latin+American+Student+Organization.

Cam'ron Hardy

Students gather in the Library Quad Thursday afternoon to socialize and meet one another during the a Latinx social event sponsored by Eastern’s Latin American Student Organization.

Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

The Latin American Student Organization, LASO, provides a space and community for Eastern Latinx students on campus. LASO is a Registered Student Organization, RSO, focused on promoting and addressing current issues including educational, social and cultural aspects of Latinx communities.

Daniela Muñoz, the president of LASO and a senior fashion merchandising major, said LASO’s goal is to educate Eastern’s and Charleston’s communities.

“For LASO our hope is to bring people together from the community here on campus and in Charleston to better educate and promote the culture and the different opportunities that LASO has to bring to the different students on campus,” Muñoz said. “I think it’s really important to engage in the cultural awareness and promote professional and social opportunities for the students here, and LASO is that gateway. And we want to promote that to make sure that people understand that we’re here, and that we can help and we are a little home here.”

An aspect of LASO that led to Muñoz joining LASO her freshman year was the way LASO promoted resources to minority students.

“I first started going to LASO my freshman year; I remember first going because I had older friends who had told me about it, and they let me know when the meetings were,” Muñoz said. “And then I would just end up going, and they had really cool and fun events… So I started going pretty early on in my years here at Eastern.”

“[LASO was] able to promote the different things and resources that were available for minority students on campus,” Muñoz said. “And since I’m a minority, I really want to take advantage of that. So the reason that I kept coming was because it provided that for me, and I made it all the way to president now. A little shocking, I did not think I was going to be on the [executive] board, but I had a lot of fun and a lot of the people that I’m with now on the [executive] board had really encouraged me to do it.”

Kathya Muñoz Flores, a senior management major, said Muñoz has done a good job as president of LASO.

“I feel like [Muñoz] has done a really good job this year of making everyone interact and join and want to come back,” Muñoz Flores said. “And so I’m liking it a lot.”

Muñoz Flores said she joined LASO to meet more Latinx students on campus.

“I started attending LASO this year,” Muñoz Flores said. “It’s been very interesting to meet more Latinx students around campus and in my classes there’s not really that many students. And it’s been really cool to interact with different types of people who are also not Hispanic that want to be part of the Hispanic group.”

Muñoz said she hopes LASO will continue bringing more awareness to local communities.

“I really hope that LASO is able to become more of an awareness resource for the minority students and any students on campus because we welcome anyone,” Muñoz said. “So I really want LASO to build a better and a greater foundation for students here.”

Alexia Marian Guajardo Gonzalez, a freshman psychology major, just joined LASO this semester.

“It’s a very lively community that strangers walk in, and we just greet each other and already, it’s like we’re familiar with one another because we’re all aware,” Guajardo Gonzalez said. “We’re all part of the same culture together. And so that helps us feel more connected, and it’s very nice… It’s just a way to have a good time with like minded people and explore your culture.”

Guajardo Gonzalez said she joined LASO to create friends with a common culture as her.

“[I joined] because I don’t really have any Latino friends at all,” Guajardo Gonzalez said. “And I thought maybe joining would help with that because I attract so many white people, and they’re great. I like my friends, but they don’t really understand my personal struggles when it comes to my race and culture. And I’d like to have people like that.”

Muñoz said getting to interact with others is her favorite part about being in LASO.

“My favorite thing about LASO is interacting with the people,” Muñoz said. “I’m a people person, and I love talking. Sometimes I can’t stop, so I just think that interacting with different people, whether it’s like freshmen students, or people from different departments. I think to me that’s so interesting, especially when we can come together into one space, which is LASO.”

Muñoz Flores said LASO is important to bring the opportunity for different Latinx students at Eastern to come together.

“I think it’s very important for LASO to be on campus because it shows the different Latino students that they can be part of something here in Charleston as well as on the university,” Muñoz Flores said.

Paola Cuatepitzi-Rojas, a junior early childhood education major, said LASO is an an opportunity to be within a different community.

“Because it gives you a different way to look into a different community,” Cuatepitzi-Rojas said. “If you come in you see how we interact and see how we are with our culture and stuff like that. You see a part of the community you don’t get to really see out in the real world if you don’t go out exploring.”

Cuatepitzi-Rojas said LASO provides a way for Latinx students to come together.

“I think it’s important because we need to come together as a community,” Guajardo Gonzalez said. “Especially nowadays because we’re facing a lot of issues when it comes to oppression, and I think finding like minded people who are all dealing with the same struggles can come together and feel less alone about it.”

Monica Ventura, a freshman pre-nursing major, is benefited by being in LASO because she is a first generation college student.

“It’s also important, especially like I’m first gen,” Ventura said. “This is my first time in college. First time for anyone in my family in college. So I just want to be with people who can also share that experience. And it’s a good way to build a community; get to know people… And then just in general, it’s an open space, people are accepting no matter what.”

Ventura joined LASO to get to know people on campus with similar experiences.

“I decided to join LASO because [Eastern] is way further from my house,” Ventura said. “So I don’t know many people nearby. And I just want to be close to some people who we least have one thing similar, or I can share experiences with… I really liked it a lot. It’s really open that people are really nice, and I just like the atmosphere.”

Cuatepitzi-Rojas joined LASO initially her freshman year, but has rejoined this year for her junior year.

“I joined LASO actually like my freshman year but I stopped going to it,” Cuateptzi-Rojas said. “It isn’t until this year that I’ve actually stuck to it… In freshman year, I decided to join because I wanted to find a community that I can be a part of and this year, I just want to stay closer to it and actually commit.”

Muñoz Flores said Eastern students should know LASO is not exclusive to Latinx students.

“I would want EIU students to know that LASO is not only for Latin students, but it’s open to everybody,” Muñoz Flores said.

Cuatepitzi-Rojas said LASO allows students to be themselves.

“[My favorite part about LASO is] the fact that we all act like goofballs, and we can all be ourselves and no one cares,” Cuatepitzi-Rojas said.

Muñoz said LASO has grown in members, and she hopes it continues to do so.

“You don’t have to come to each and every [meeting], but we do always have a fun time,” Muñoz said. “There are a lot of people this semester so I hope we can keep that going. And it’s not inclusive to only minority students. It’s basically for everybody to come and join and make sure to keep up with our socials because we post a lot of updates on there. And honestly just come if you want to have a fun time.”

 

Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]