Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The Latinx American Cultural Center is an inclusive space for UMass’ Latin American Diaspora

The LACC hosts multiple events throughout the year for Latinx students
Shilpa Sweth

Founded in 1989, the Latinx American Cultural Center (LACC) at the University of Massachusetts aims to provide a safe space for the Latinx community on campus. One of four cultural centers under the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) umbrella, the LACC is an open space available for students and their needs. This includes renting out the space for events (through Campus Pulse), using it as a study spot and making it a place to meet more Latinx students.

The LACC is open to students Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and is located in Hampden Gallery. Throughout the year, the staff host numerous events for students to get involved and build community.

Isargy De La Cruz, a senior psychology and political science double major, is a programming assistant for the LACC who joined her freshman year. “When I had entered college, it was at the peak of the COVID pandemic…I was feeling disconnected not only [in general] but [with] people I identified with,” she explained.

De La Cruz searched for a space where she could meet more Latinx students and share with them some of her struggles and concerns with going to a predominantly white institution (PWI), which is how she joined the LACC.

The LACC hosts monthly events that are shared on Instagram and through the weekly CMASS newsletter. In their kick-off event, students were able to indulge in traditional Hispanic foods and listen to Spanish music. “Seeing the turnout and hearing about the new connections that were made that night was definitely a highlight I will cherish,” De La Cruz said.

Upcoming events include a seminar about cultural appropriation versus appreciation, hosted in collaboration with the Women of Color Leadership Network, and a few more events centered around the holiday Dia De Los Muertos in collaboration with the Stonewall Center.

The center also hosts community conversations, where students can discuss any related events that happened in their lives and in the world, whether campus-related or not. “Everyone needs a safe space where they feel like they belong and can communicate their thoughts freely,” programming assistant Leila Hernandez, a senior psychology and biochemistry and molecular biology dual degree, said.

“I think everyone deserves to find their home away from home and I hope more students utilize the resources offered by us and for us,” she continued.

De La Cruz believes it’s important for Latinx students to have such centers so they feel “welcomed and accepted on campus.” She explained, “Building community is an essential part of this, you are able to connect with others who understand the same internalized struggles you may be dealing with and will listen with the ability of comprehension and compassion.”

She added that having such spaces helps students navigate feelings of loneliness when they can share and celebrate their culture and traditions.

Nicolle Gudiel Winter is a senior psychology major of Guatemalan descent. “The promotion of LACC events gives me the reassurance that the university puts in work to ensure that students have a physical space on campus where they can feel represented and have a sense of community,” she said.

Winter is also the events coordinator of Latinos Unidos, a registered student organization celebrating the Latinx community. In the future, she hopes to collaborate more with the LACC to establish a stronger presence for the Latinx community as a whole and believes both groups work independently to build an inclusive and interactive community.

Hernandez added, “I hope you take the chance and the opportunity to come to future events that are held in our spaces and take part in conversations that need to be heard,” addressing the student community. “You have a home at CMASS [and the cultural] centers bring a sense of community to the campus that some people have not had a chance to find and explore yet.”

Students can get involved with the LACC by subscribing to the CMASS email to learn more about events happening on campus. Their Instagram account (@umass.lacc) has more information about upcoming events.

Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X @Mahidhar_sl.

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