Mayra Lopez came to the University having grown up in a big family atmosphere. At the Latino Student Union, the sophomore feels right at home.
Lopez, political action chair for the Latino Student Union, said the group prides itself on creating a family atmosphere for all.
“Our slogan is that we are a familia,” Lopez said. “I stay involved in the group because I want to reach other Latino students and I want them to feel the way I felt, that I have a family here.”
Juan Pimiento, sophomore and vice president of the group, said the Latino Student Union, which meets every Wednesday at the Union, is the premier organization for Latino students on campus.
“We promote Latino culture and values and try to bring down the stereotypes,” he said.
President of the Latino Student Union Adriana Darris said the purpose of the organization is to unite Latino students and those interested in their culture.
“Everyone and anyone is welcome,” Darris said. “If you’re looking for a home on campus, no matter who you are and how different you feel, you can come to LSU and feel like you’re part of a family.”
Darris, a sophomore, said at every meeting the group has familia time where everyone will participate in an icebreaker game.
Each meeting also includes a political discussion about a current event or topic dealing with the Latino community.
Lopez presents about the selected issue before opening up the floor to discussion between group members.
Past topics have included the effect of the Latino vote in the election, Puerto Rico becoming a state and hate crimes at the University.
“Being a Latino myself, I care about my community and I strongly believe in what LSU stands for. It’s my passion,” Pimiento said.
Lopez said one idea a lot of people falsely believe is that all members of the Latino Student Union must speak Spanish or be Latino.
“We have all types of races of people in our group,” Lopez said. “It’s about putting our differences aside and coming together as a family to learn about the Latino community.”
Darris wanted to start off the year fresh with the Latino Student Union after participating in the organization her freshman year.
“I wanted to try something new and to create a place where our voices could be heard,” she said. “We had a lot of problems last year and I’m the type of person to take charge and try to change.”
Darris said she has noticed more people coming to meetings and more participation in group events than the past year. About 35 members come to the weekly meetings and, she said, there are about 50 total members.
Pimiento said this year the Latino Student Union has created more of a sense of belonging than the past year.
“We welcome anybody and the best thing we can offer is an environment of family,” Pimiento said.
Darris said the group has several upcoming events during the spring semester, including plans to go to a United States Hispanic Leadership Institute conference in February. They are also hosting a blood drive with the Red Cross and the Undergraduate Student Government. They will prepare for Latino Awareness Week in April, hosting a Latino issues conference and talent show for Latino Awareness week April 15 to 21.
The Latino Student Union meets every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in 207 Union.