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Davis, California

Sunday, June 16, 2024

UC Davis celebrates Latinx/Chicanx Heritage Month

Various centers and groups around campus collaborate to give students a month-long celebration of their culture, heritage and identity 


By ELIZABETH WOODHALL — features@theaggie.org


The UC Davis community is gearing up for a celebration of Chicanx/Latinx Heritage Month where students can expect events hosted by campus centers and organizations to recognize the Latinx and Chicanx community in Davis. Specifically, events will be celebrating Latin American countries’ independence. 

Some of the centers and groups involved include the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success, the Center for Educational Opportunity Program, the Latinx Staff and Faculty Association, Sol y Luna (from the Student Recruitment and Retention Center), Hispanic-Serving Institution and the UC Davis Cross Cultural Center. The lineup of events is available on the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success’ Instagram page, @cclass.ucdavis.

Lina Mendez, the director of the UC Davis Hispanic-Serving Institution, or HSI, said that these centers have been in close collaboration with each other to put on these month-long programs. 

“We were all able to come up with a very robust calendar,” Mendez said. “There is a national movement called HSI Week, which is a Hispanic Serving Institution, and it’s usually the week of Sept. 15. There is also a national movement called Hispanic Heritage Month, which goes from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and because we are on the quarter system, it works best for us to take the longer month, so this year, for the very first time, the Chicanx and Latinx community from UC Davis decided to put together a calendar of different events or activities that involve the promotion of Latinx/Chicanx history, arts or different areas like that.”

Even though this month of celebration is referred to as Hispanic Heritage Month, Mendez said that the Davis community was vocal about their disapproval of this title. Instead, they moved towards a term that was more inclusive of the Latinx and Chicanx experience: Latinx and Chicanx Heritage Month. 

“We were very intentional with the name; our community did not want it to be called Hispanic Heritage Month, and they felt like we were moving backwards,” Mendez said. “We had a poll and the Davis community had the opportunity to vote and chose the title of Latinx/Chicanx Heritage Month.” 

With these events lined up, Mendez said that there is an importance in having students feel welcomed on campus as Latinx or Chicanx. 

“UC Davis is currently an emerging Hispanic serving institution,” Mendez said. “It’s important for students to feel like they have things on campus that remind them of home, that give them a sense of belonging, that make them feel like they belong to our UC Davis campus. And we’re happy to start the quarter with this celebration.”

Rodrigo Bonilla, the director of the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success, said that these events are meant to showcase the Latinx and Chicanx community. 

This year, as a community we decided to have a centralized calendar of events from all of the different units on campus that directly support Latinx students,” Bonilla said via email. “We are all hosting various different events that celebrate our culture, heritage and history, and we wanted to make sure that they were all in one place, making it easier for students to find [us]. One of our very own students created the design for our calendar that showcases our community. Additionally, another one of our students from SOL y LUNA also designed and created a website where you can find all of the events that can be added directly to your Google calendar.”

With this celebration of Chicanx and Latinx students and their community, Bonilla said that these events are essential for the celebration of their culture. 

It is very important to have these events to celebrate, acknowledge and provide visibility of our community on this campus,” Bonilla said. “There is so much richness that our beautiful community contributes to this institution, and Heritage Month is so much more than just a celebration. It’s who we are.”

This celebration is not just about Latinx and Chicanx Heritage Month; it’s about creating a space for Latinx and Chicanx students to feel seen and welcome. Bonilla said that the center should be seen as a “home” — a space that is supportive and welcoming to the community. Additionally, Bonilla said the center wishes to “support [students] as a person, scholar and future professional.”

Anahi Reyes-Atristain, a third-year mathematics and Spanish major and the community leader at CCLASS, invites students to come into the center, or El Centro, and check out all the exciting events coming up. She said that these events should foster diversity as well as be educational to Latinx and Chicanx students — and anyone who is interested in learning about their heritage. The center is located on the second floor of the Memorial Union. 

“We also have Bienvenida, which is happening on Sept. 30,” Reyes-Atristain said. “These events are there to foster a kind of community and build that community for anyone in general, but especially for the incoming students, whether it be transfers or freshmen, we just want to make sure that everyone feels welcome here.”

The festivities started on Sept. 15 with a celebration of Mexican Independence Day and will come to an end on Oct. 24 with an honorary celebration of Dia de Los Muertos that welcomes Lilia Downs, an artist from Mexico with palpable influence in Latin America. Whether it’s celebrating good food or hosting laid-back movie and game nights, the centers and groups involved have created a line-up of events that welcome everyone to come and celebrate Latinx/Chicanx Heritage Month. 


Written by: Elizabeth Woodhall — features@theaggie.org