Since before its launch in 2019, the Carolina Latinx Center has been dedicated to supporting UNC’s Latinx communities.
One of its newest initiatives is the Latinx Leadership Alliance, a group of CLC staff and student leaders who seek to advise and support one another through the common goal of unifying Latinx communities at the University.
“We really just wanted a space for us to come together, talk, debrief and come as a community, and regrow this sense of belonging at our school,” senior Roberto Negrete, this year’s student ambassador for the Latinx Leadership Alliance council, said.
The Alliance started out as an idea for reengaging the Latinx community as the University began to fully transition back to in-person learning, two years after the pandemic began, Negrete said.
However, he and other organization representatives saw potential for the Alliance to be a long-term collaboration.
“We noticed a lot of division within the Latinx community here at UNC,” senior Melanie Godinez-Cedillo, co-president of Mi Pueblo, a Latinx student organization on campus, said. “There's so many organizations, but we never really got together besides the Hispanic Heritage Month programming that we have every September-October.”
When the Alliance first met in September, representatives from five student organizations attended.
In the months since, the Alliance has grown to 10 organizations: Mi Pueblo, the Bridge, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, La Unidad Latina Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Students United for Immigrant Equality, PorColombia, Latino Medical Student Association, Omega Phi Beta Sorority and Brazilian Student Association.
“I think that there's been a desire from students to help facilitate the formation of something like this,” Josmell Pérez, the director of the CLC, said. “There's always been that desire for student leaders, student organizations and students to have a space in a forum to be able to come together from across groups and organizations.”
The Alliance is still in its early phases, Pérez said, but the group expects to launch fully during the fall 2022 semester.
Since the first meeting last semester, the council of representatives has been formalizing their vision and establishing foundational processes that would uphold the Alliance for years to come.
“I think that we really want the Alliance to be a united front of all the Latinx organizations here at UNC,” Godinez-Cedillo said. “So, we've been trying to build up that foundation to where it's something that's sustainable.”
Building something that will last a long time takes a long time, Negrete said. Taking time and getting to know members on the council to ensure comfort and trust among one another has become a main priority of the Alliance, he said.
“I think that's what we needed, even just as students, because this past semester was transitioning from the two years since we had a pandemic of the COVID outbreak,” Negrete said. “So that solidified a lot of our unity and actually something that we can call a council because we trust each other."
The CLC and current Alliance council hope this initiative can become a powerful resource for future generations of Latinx students at UNC, providing support that past students did not have.
For Godinez-Cedillo, the Alliance helped her realize the growing power and strength of Latinx students at UNC.
"There are so many of us that we really do need more resources allocated and to really leverage our voices on campus to ask for what we need," Godinez-Cedillo said. "I think that that has been shown here through just the creation of a leadership alliance, that united we can do much more than we can divided.”
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