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UNC student law organizations hosting Lunch & Learn to highlight farmworkers


The sun shines on the entrance of the UNC School of Law. The Farmworker Lunch and Learn hosted by the UNC Hispanic/Latino Law Student Association will take place this Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.

On Thursday, the UNC School of Law will be hosting Farmworker Lunch & Learn, an event organized by the UNC Hispanic/Latino Law Student Association (HLLSA) in collaboration with the UNC Labor & Employment Law Association (LELA). 

Taking place during Hispanic Heritage Month, the Farmworker Lunch & Learn will highlight migrant and seasonal farmers across all 100 counties in North Carolina who either live in the state permanently or come from other countries to work in the state. 

The event, partially organized by HLLSA, hopes to further the organization’s mission of “uplifting students that are Hispanic or Latino and putting them in positions where they can accomplish their professional goals,” Kevin Quintana, HLLSA's Student Bar Association representative, said.

Quintana said community and mentorship from older students who come from similar backgrounds is important — especially for Hispanic and Latino students at UNC.

Maria Romero, the president of HLLSA, stressed the need to bring focus to not only Latino law students but also the Latino community in general.

She said the board of HLLSA began planning events for the year this summer. Romero added that HLLSA prioritized collaboration with other organizations for these events.

“We wanted to educate students about what the legal conditions are like for farmworkers in North Carolina,” Romero said.

Mackenzie Roche, the president of LELA, said she believes events like this “allow students to understand how the intersections of a lot of different legal interests combine, and what they look like in practice.”

Roche also said the lunch event will highlight how farmworkers and labor rights interact, which is something some students on UNC’s campus might not be aware of.

Various representatives from the Legal Aid of North Carolina's Farmworker Unit will speak at the lunch. One of the Legal Aid representatives at the conference will be Caitlin Ryland, the managing attorney for the Farmworker Unit. She has worked with the group for the past 15 years. 

Ryland said the Farmworker Unit aims to educate North Carolinians about members of their community who they might not hear about often.

“[Farmworkers] are essential workers; they’re a big part of our community and economy. They help put food on the table for our families,” she said.

Romero also said the Farmworker Lunch & Learn is a “great way of bringing the focus back to the people who make our lunches possible.”

Ryland emphasized that workers are not always from North Carolina, which can present various challenges in their work and home life. Many of these people have to rely on their employers for a variety of services, including transportation to churches and stores, housing and receiving mail.

“Due to geographic isolation, conditions at work or in their farm labor camps, or the conditions of their visa programs, they are extremely isolated and often are dependent on their employer for a lot of things,” she said.

The Farmworker Lunch & Learn will take place on Thursday at noon in room 5046 of Van Hecke-Wettach Hall. HLLSA has also planned a Latines in Transactional Law Panel, which will take place next Monday, also at noon in room 5046.


@dailytarheel |

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