In conjunction with national Hispanic Heritage Month, Bowdoin students are delving into a seven-week exploration of Latinx experiences, identities, values and issues.

“Latinx Heritage Month and Beyond,” a series of programs organized by the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), the Student Center for Multicultural Life and several other groups and academic departments, began yesterday with a talk by Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig titled “A Remedy for Education Justice: Mobilizing Local Education Reform.”

LASO will host a celebratory kickoff barbecue at the Student Center for Multicultural Life this afternoon. 

“I think it’s going to be a really cool month,” said LASO treasurer Karla Olivares ’17.

LASO opted to recognize the month as Latinx Heritage Month, rather than Hispanic Heritage Month, to include students who identify as Latinx, but not necessarily as Hispanic. The “x” allows for gender inclusivity taking into consideration those who do not identify with the male-female binary of Latino or Latina. 

Although the month’s events are grounded in celebrating Latinx heritage and learning about Latinx issues, LASO leaders emphasized that they are for all Bowdoin students.

“I feel like this is a good way to teach Bowdoin students about what’s personal to the Hispanic students on campus,” said Olivares. “I hope that people can come to the kickoff event and feel comfortable enough to interact with the Hispanic, Latinx students on campus.” 

Secretary of LASO Raquel Santizo ’19 echoed this sentiment. 

“We want people—not just Latino or Hispanic people—we want everyone to go to these events and enjoy them,” she said.

In the past, students struggled to organize speakers for Hispanic Heritage Month due to the logistical difficulty of planning events so early in the semester. This year, LASO leaders worked with Director of the Student Center for Multicultural Life Benjamin Harris throughout the summer to prepare. With Harris’ guidance, LASO members engaged in many discussions about which individuals would be the most beneficial and informative to the Bowdoin community. As a result, the array of events and speakers is much wider than in previous years. 

Olivares said she was especially excited for the talk by Priscila Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez, also known as “Woke Brown Girl.”  Members of LASO, the Women of Color Coalition and the Women’s Resource Center will also have the opportunity to join Rodriguez for dinner.  

Santizo said she is looking forward to hearing from writer Junot Díaz, who comes to Bowdoin on November 3. 

Harris hopes that all students can learn from the month, ask questions and increase their understanding of the Latinx community.  

“I hope students can come out and be a part of the programs and learn something new,” said Harris. “The more we hear voices from a diverse array of folks, [the more we become] aware of issues other folks are dealing with and how they may intersect with the issues that we are dealing with in our particular community.”