Monday, January 25, 2010

Latina Sororities, nothing like your average

This contribution is written by Yuritzi E. Lozano, who is a senior at the University of Washington, double-majoring in International Studies: Latin America and Spanish with a minor in Diversity.

Latina sororities first made their appearence on universities about 35 years ago, when the first Latina sorority was established at Kean University. Since then many more have been established. Unlike mainstream Greeks--fraternal organizations that must live in specified housing--these sororities are considered non-traditional in that there is no requirement to live in Greek housing.

These developed when colleges and universities experienced an influx of Latino enrollment. A need to support groups and outreach programs were at an all time high, especially that of Latina women in higher education institutions. At the time there were not many social options for these underrepresented groups. Thus, the decision to create a sisterhood which empowered and supported Latinas evolved.

For many of the women that join these sorority it is more than just a social organization, it becomes a support system that they can rely on. Many of the young Latinas that continue on to higher education are often first, second and sometimes third generation and oftentimes have had to move away from home to pursue their academic dreams.

For me it was just like that: I moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington from a small city in Eastern Washington. As first generation in higher academia I hardly knew anyone, much less about Seattle life. Joining a sorority, for me, was a way of making the UW campus smaller and created a home away from home.

Today university campuses around the nation have many different sororities on their campus. For example, the University of Washington is home to 4 distinct and unique Latina Sororities; Lambda Theta Alpha, Sigma Lambda Gamma, Kappa Delta Chi and Gamma Alpha Omega. Why the need for so many organizations that cater to this specific group? Each Latina sorority formed from the need to embody principles, values, and philanthropies that catered to their specific needs. Every one of the organizations mentioned above provides something different to its members such as community service, leadership skills, diversity, and networking skills.

At the end of the day they all provide a social aspect which allows these women to create a niche.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Latino Empowerment in the State Capitol

This contribution is written by Diana Lopez, who is a senior at the University of Washington, double-majoring in Law, Society, and Justice plus Spanish.

For five consecutive years, Latinos from all over Washington have come to the state capitol to empower themselves by meeting with lawmakers and other policital leaders, including the governor. In fact, the 5th Annual Hispanic/Latino Legislative Day is taking place in Olympia today!

The annual event is held in order to promote Latino participation in civics and provide info sessions on health, housing, education, farm worker rights and economic development. This year's keynote speaker is Gov. Chris Gregoire and free interpreting is provided during education presentations and legislature visits.

Hispanic/Latino Legislative Day is very important to the community because it reaches out to Latinos and provides them with information that may benefit their daily lives; it is also a way for them to have their voices heard. Community leaders and advocates from all over the state of Washington will be giving presentations on education issues and challanges facing the Washington Latino community. The purpose of this event is to unite the Latino voice in support of issues that affect the Latino community and learn about the legislative process.

The Hispanic/Latino Legislative Organization understands the importance of Latinos to attend from all over the state of Washington, therefore, have sponsored two chartered busses to provide transportation, one leaving from Pasco and the other from Wenatchee.