The College of Wooster’s Latinx community has found a permanent home in Armington Hall, with the official inauguration of the Latinx Lounge taking place last Tuesday, Jan. 21. Administrators, faculty members and allies joined members of the Latinx student community to mark the momentous occasion.
The inauguration of the Lounge is significant because the space has been sought after by the Latinx community on campus for years. According to Alberto Peralta ’20, “This space is something that students have been working towards since even before I got here.” Thus, the Lounge “is something historic not just for our organizations, but for the [College].” Peralta serves as the current president of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS).
Fortunately, the push for a Latinx space at Wooster was revitalized when Latinas Unidas (LU) Co-President Annays Yacamán ’22 attended the Summit for Ohio Latinx last year. Held at Denison University, Yacamán was inspired by the vibrant space that Denison’s Latinx student community had on campus; she reflected “I could feel the pride they felt from having the space, and it was something I wanted Latinx students on our campus to feel.”
Securing a safe space for the Latinx community to gather on campus was challenging. While Yacamán was supported and encouraged by her meetings with Dr. Ivonne García, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, and Amanda Anastasia Paniagua, director of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), it was unclear whether there was room in the budget for a space to be economically feasible this year.
This dynamic shifted during Hispanic Heritage Month, however, which was celebrated from mid-September to midOctober. In addition to offering events such as documentary screenings and the Latinx Gala, LU hosted the first annual Latinx Townhall on Sep. 17 in conjunction with OLAS.
According to Yacamán, members of the Latinx community at the Townhall “presented a document with a set of demands, one of which was the Latinx safe space. When we moved into open discussion, this was clearly one of the most pressing needs that students expressed they needed. You could feel and see the pain in so much of our community. I think it was impossible to ignore our community at that point.”
With the idea secured, Yacamán and members of LU and OLAS worked with the administration to develop and finalize plans for the space, which was determined to be in the newlyrenovated Armington Hall.
When asked how she hopes the space will be utilized, Yacamán stated, “I hope students will individually be able to use the space when they need some space from what is going on on campus and in the media or news, or to process injustices that their families or communities are going through.” Peralta echoed this sentiment, stating, “The Latinx Lounge is essential to have on campus … The space provides a home for people. It is a space [our] organizations can occupy for intimate and personal cultural celebrations. We are content that we now have our own designated space on campus to operate on our own terms. Morally, it also makes us feel heard.”
If you’d like to access the Latinx Lounge, please reach out to the MSA via email for more information. Both allies and members of the Latinx community are encouraged to join and support the student organizations. And if you are a Latinx student, Yacamán urges you to “consider using the space and making another home for yourself ” here at The College of Wooste