Organization Spotlight: Latin Student Union (Sangre)
(ABILENE, Texas)–In Fall 2018, freshman Juan Sanchez met with HSU’s Assistant Director of Housing, Khamisie Green, to discuss the creation of a club on campus to act as a home away from home for Latino students and to improve the diversity and inclusivity of the campus environment. Since then, HSU’s Latin Student Union, known as Sangre, has worked to unify the campus, while emphasizing the value of individuality.
Value in Diversity
Sanchez, who now acts as president within Sangre, explains that the club’s “main goal is to create a home for Latino students at HSU and to build a community on campus to be inclusive and have people who can relate to each other.”
“Another goal,” he says, “is to inform all students what it is to be a Latino and show that we all come from different walks of life but are all united under the love of God. We try to identify common misconceptions about our ethnicities and eliminate the false stereotypes that have been given to them. At the end of the day, we are just trying to have fun and express who we are as people.”
The club helps many students find their voices and take pride in their differing backgrounds. Members of Sangre are active across campus. Some play on HSU’s baseball, football, and softball teams. Sangre’s vice president is also a member of women’s social club Sigma Alpha, while two more officers also act as officers for Love Your Melon, an organization that raises money for cancer research and supports cancer patients. Many of the club’s members also work on campus.
The club hosted several successful events in their first year, alongside HSU’s Black Student Union, Proven. They hope to continue hosting exciting activities and sharing knowledge about a variety of cultures and backgrounds in the 2019-20 school year.
“There will definitely be more cultural diversity and awareness going into this new school year,” says Sangre’s secretary, Maria Spinelli. “The purpose of Sangre is to bring together the Latino community within HSU, but in order to do that, we need people to identify themselves and their cultural backgrounds. This way, it is also people outside of Sangre that are teaching individuals about the different communities and what their cultural stances are today.”
Both Spinelli and Sanchez say that their Zumba event this May is their favorite Sangre event, so far. “After our last Zumba event, I could tell that several people that joined us were filled with positive energy and in better moods. Not only did this help them mentally and physically, but this also taught everyone that was a part of the event the different types of styles of dance and music that are in the Latino community,” says Spinelli. The club aims to host similar events once a semester in the coming years.
A Home Away From Home
The club not only works to break down barriers on campus and within the Abilene community, but also provides a home away from home for its members. According to Texas Monthly’s annual College Guide, around 19% of HSU’s students classify as Hispanic.
“Sangre is almost like home to me. I am from Fort Worth, TX, and most of my friends from back home are mostly Hispanic. Being a part of Sangre has definitely brought back that feeling, especially with the officers that are currently a part of Sangre. In the very beginning of the 2018 school year, I had a hard time finding people I could relate to on a personal level. The moment I found out about Sangre, I knew I had to join. The sense of feeling homesick was instantly gone,” explains Spinelli.
What’s in Your Blood?
During an early meeting of Sangre’s officers, the group encountered some difficulty attempting to name the new Latin Student Union. “We had many options, and we bumped heads trying to decide something that could stick and be meaningful at the same time,” says Sanchez. “We all agreed upon Sangre, which means “Blood” in Spanish. Our slogan is, ‘What’s in your blood?’”
“Because nobody is the same, Sangre carries a deeper meaning than just a cool club name. It asks the questions: Where do you come from, and what makes you unique? This organization means so much more to me than just a Latin club that meets up on Tuesdays to eat tacos. It means bringing inclusion, awareness, and community to our school.”
Moving forward, Sanchez says that “you can expect to see us more active and involved in moving forward with our goals in order to make HSU more inclusive and more beautiful than it already is.”