Soup & Substance panelists discuss lack of Hispanic and Latino representation on campus
Maricella Reyes, a graduate student and member of the Empowered Latino Union, confronted the lack of Hispanic and Latino representation on campus at the first Soup & Substance of the academic year Sept. 15.
The event took place Friday in the Bovee University Center terrace rooms. Reyes, a Midland native, was one of four panelists who shared their experiences with maintaining culture, heritage and identity in the U.S. and on campus.
Reyes transferred to Central Michigan University from Delta College in Bay County.
“Coming to Central I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to a huge new campus, with all these different people,’” she said. “I was going to meet a lot more people and I was searching before I even got here for different organizations I could join about my culture.”
Reyes was disappointed to have only discovered a Latino multicultural-based sorority when she arrived at CMU. Reyes said the representation for the community is still awful despite efforts made by Multicultural Academic Student Services.
The Hispanic and Latino community takes up 3 percent of the college’s student body — consisting of 700 undergraduate students.
Assistant Director of Admissions Patricia Young said the university is not even slightly close to meeting her goals for expanding an intersectional student body.
“In my head I have a goal that Central will reach almost 20 percent undergraduate minority recruitment by 2020, we’re not there,” she said, explaining the university misleads its growth in diversity by including graduate and international students.
There are approximately 54 million Hispanic people in the U.S. — one of the event’s trivia questions revealed. Young said these numbers do not uplift faculty, staff and fellow students from ignorance.
During her freshman year of college, Young encountered discrimination from one of her honors course professors.
“It was the one class I struggled in the most in all my years as a CMU student,” Young said. “Based off of what I had been hearing, he assumed that I couldn’t speak English.”
In response to his assumption, the professor asked Young if she could understand her in a very stereotypically, stretched out and offensive manner, she said.
“I didn’t even know how to take it — I cried,” she said, explaining that at the time she had been too embarrassed to report the professor who left her feeling insecure in her new, academic environment.
Young said scenarios of racism need to be reported as soon as possible and all students will be kept anonymous upon deciding to speak out.
“They do exist, they are here,” she said addressing discriminators in the CMU community, “They’re in this community.”
San Francisco graduate student Karla Linares and Chicago sophomore Antonio Gutierrez joined Reyes and Young on the panel.