By Evelin Rivera-Cabral, Staff Writer
Pikes Peak Community College “aims to better serve the Hispanic community,” but lack of representation of Hispanic culture, low attendance at events, and absence of broad marketing during Hispanic Heritage Month suggests otherwise.
Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Septempter 18 through October 10, was intended to be a big deal this year. PPCC planned to dedicate four days and one week to Hispanic-related events. The plans included a panel discussion on issues that affect the Hispanic Community, several fiestas, a car show, food trucks on campus serving food from Hispanic cultures, an Immigration and DACA Services and Support Event, and a Hispanic Heritage Month Parade of Nations Fiesta to conclude the celebrations.
Though some of those events have happened, students felt that the voices of the Hispanic community were not fully met and could have been better represented.
With announcements of the event mainly promoted in the stalls and urinals of PPCC bathrooms through the Stall Street Journal, and over mass email, not many people became aware of Hispanic Heritage Month events occurring around the college.
PPCC student Cristina Amezcua says, “I was not aware of any of the events happening this month. I wish to see greater awareness of Hispanic heritage, embrace culture, innovations, achievements, and a lot more Hispanic leaders.”
PPCC student Dalila Cazares says, “I was not aware of any event coming up for HHM, and being Hispanic I would love to know about what events are going on around the school campus. I would love to see more flyers around the school with the events that are going to be happening in the campus and I would want to see more about our culture, like events that define LatinX cultural voids, events with Hispanic dishes, and cultural dances maybe even have guest speakers that are Hispanic talk about how they made it through college themselves.”
PPCC did host Jose Garcia, Colorado Community College System President and former Lieutenant Governor for the State of Colorado, two weeks ago, but not many students knew about his visit or attended the event.
First year PPCC student Sebastian Duran says, “I was not aware of any events happening, but I would like to know of future events that I can attend. For Hispanic Heritage Month, I would like to see more stories out to the public on what’s happening near the border especially with immigration. Just so more people are aware of the issue.”
Coordinator of Multicultural Retention Initiatives, Ben Gallegos-Pardo, said of this year’s events, “Really, what I wanted to do is talk to the students. We’re partnered with the Latino Student Union, El Cinco de Mayo, which is a community organization, the Hispanic Business Council, which is a community organization in town, and I wanted to be able to highlight the different relationships PPCC had with these organizations as well as with individuals in the community.”
Gallegos-Pardo continued, “For the school itself, is to realize Hispanic is such a diverse group of people. We all come from different backgrounds and languages even within our Hispanic bubble: there are some who speak Spanish, some who don’t speak Spanish, some who are either recent immigrants to the country or who have been here for a long time, and so I want to be able to highlight the diversity within the Hispanic culture through these month-long events.”
The delayed dates for the Immigration and DACA services and support event also frayed the confidence of some Hispanic students. Gallegos-Pardo says the event will still be held sometime towards the end of October and potentially have a date set by this coming Monday. He plans to market this to students and the wider community next week.
PPCC club, LatinX Union, was responsible for deciding on what to include for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month.
The LatinX Union is a student driven club that, according to its mission statement, aims to “provide PPCC students who represent the vast, beautiful, and diverse LatinX backgrounds with four key benefits: provide a safe place for PPCC LatinX students and allies from different cultures and communities to come together with one voice, mind, and united effort. To allow LatinX students and allies dedicated time to support social justice initiatives affecting our campus and community. To educate the campus and highlight LatinX arts and culture. And, to provide professional and community development to LatinX Union members.”
For all LatinX and ally students that would like to get involved in future LatinX planning events, or see improvements for next year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, they can apply through PPCC’s website and fill out a form to get connected with the LatinX Union.
Gallegos-Pardo says that he would like to see more collaboration between all campus leadership, deans, faculty, staff and students to make sure special events related to Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, LGBTQ, and others get promoted. “I think there should just be a lot more collaboration from students, faculty, and departments to get people there,” he said.
For students interested in attending the remaining event for Hispanic Heritage Month, the Hispanic Heritage Month Parade of Nations Fiesta, come to PPCC’s Centennial Campus, Oct. 10 from Noon-2 p.m., inside the Aspen Building at The Grove.
Also, keep a lookout for the Immigration and DACA services and support event happening later this month.