In recent years, Organization for Latino/Latina Awareness’ (O.L.A.) numbers have been dwindling. At one point they were a robust group now they are looking for a comeback.
“The numbers have always been a fight,” said Erika Buckley, assistant director of intercultural affairs. “I think there’s a little bit of fear in coming out and being Latino on campus, especially considering the cultural climate of the United States at the moment.”
O.L.A. is focusing partially on promoting, celebrating and educating people about the Latino ethnic group. The organization hopes not only to educate Albion’s campus about Latino culture, but also to attract Latinos on campus to participate in O.L.A.
“When the group doesn’t have individuals who are very strong in expressing their identity, it struggles,” Buckley said.
O.L.A. is aiming to spread awareness about the culture and ethnic group through a variety of outlets. Some of those have the intention of being fun and primarily enjoyable, while others carry the intention of being educational.
There will be events ranging from Salsa Night to an educational documentary. On Tuesday, Sept. 10, O.L.A. had its first official event of the semester, O.L.A. Bash.
“I thought the (O.L.A.) Bash went really well, and there was a pretty good turnout for such a small group of people,” said Ari Leonardi, Dearborn Heights junior.
It seems as though most students associated with O.L.A. share similar goals.
“I would like to see O.L.A. return to a state where it is thriving and where it’s really involved on campus again,” Leonardi said.
Years ago, when O.L.A. had 25 to 30 members, the group was able to be relatively active. In addition to activities, the organization took trips to places like Honduras.
“I think it’s really important to get O.L.A. back to that point [of 25 to 30 members],” said Maddy Hutchison, Brighton junior and group member.
Although there is a focus on membership, the central goal of O.L.A. is what is truly important to its members.
“We don’t want to just do the tokenized fun events,” Buckley said. “We want to deal with the good and the bad that all of those groups face, especially when you’re dealing with underrepresented populations.”
Furthermore, O.L.A. primarily intends to positively promote the Latino culture on campus.
“I think it’s especially important to have these organizations for the minority groups on campus so they don’t feel lost,” Hutchison said.
Photo courtesy of Ari Leonardi