University Employees Form New Latino OrganizationPosted April 4, 2011
Kent State University has a new organization for faculty and staff who have an affiliation with or an interest in Latino culture. The Latino Networking Caucus has been created to fill a void felt by members of the university community.
"For Latino faculty and staff at Kent State, there wasn't a way for us to come together to share interests and ideas," says Dave Garcia, Kent State's associate vice president with Enrollment Management and Student Affairs and chair of the Latino Networking Caucus. "There also was an absence for the SALSA (Spanish and Latino Student Association) student organization since there was no similar employee organization for them to go to for advice and counsel. This new organization coming together is a great thing to have happened, both for our employees and our students."
The Latino Networking Caucus serves as a clearinghouse for issues, events and activities at Kent State and promotes and supports Latino interest, culture and needs. The organization has about 50 members. It is composed of faculty, staff and students from the eight Kent State campuses.
Joining Garcia in the leadership of this new organization is Sara Morato-Querejazu, academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences and vice chair of the Latino Networking Caucus, and Rick Mangrum, aeronautics assistant professor and the organization's secretary/treasurer.
"What attracted me to the organization and led me to become its vice chair is that we can express our voices and make everyone aware of our culture," Morato-Querejazu says. "Being Latino means representing your culture proudly. There are many countries that make up the Latino population, and even though cultures may be similar, the regions are very different with their own unique richness. The more we can be educated about each culture, the better we can serve our students."
Mangrum was also drawn to the organization. "I wanted to be involved with the Latino Networking Caucus because of the importance of the Latin American culture to the diverse population of ethnicities present at Kent State, as well as the importance of representation of Latino faculty, students and staff in the broader context of higher education in Ohio," he says.
Garcia says he has goals set for the organization. "I'd like for us to accomplish creating more events that are culturally sensitive to the Latino or Hispanic community and creating scholarships for Latino students," he says. "Also, the Latino Networking Caucus can help with recruiting students by building relationships with Latino communities in Northeast Ohio."
Morato-Querejazu would like the Latino Networking Caucus to create events and awareness for Hispanic Heritage Month. "It would be great to have some events, showcase movies or have something for students and the faculty so they can learn about Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins in September."
The organization meets monthly with keynote speakers. At this time, there are no dues. Membership is open to all Kent State faculty and staff. To become a member, an individual must submit a membership application to confirm membership status along with voting privileges.
Kent State students (undergraduate and graduate) and community leaders are also welcome to join but with no voting privileges. In addition, one member designated by SALSA and one member from a graduate program (designated by the executive cabinet) are granted voting privileges.
For more information about the Latino Networking Caucus, contact Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.