The Daily Gamecock

Culture, policies mark Hispanic Heritage month

Student groups promote awareness through festivities, dialogue


Hispanic culture was on display Thursday evening as Hispanic Heritage Month took hold in two campus residence halls. Students Allied for Better Immigration Options (SABIO) hosted a lecture in the Honors Residence Hall on border violence and immigration issues while Students Associated for Latin America (SALA) hosted a Carnaval Brasileiro at Gibbes Court Bistro in Capstone.

Macrina Cárdenas Alarcón, a community activist from the Mexico Solidarity Network (MSN), an advocacy group that supports Chicago’s Hispanic community, visited SABIO from Tijuana, Mexico, to discuss the role of American policies, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Patriot Act, in the influxes of illegal immigrants from Mexico into the United States.

Through translator Stuart Schussler, also of MSN, Alarcon discussed the development of maquiladoras, foreign-run factories established under Mexico’s Border Industrialization Program in 1964, which she likened to “sweat shops.”

Alarcón also argued that U.S. efforts to tighten the border, along with the growing influence of drug cartels in border towns, have made border crossings more dangerous.

Lisa Splawinski, a fourth-year international studies and Spanish student and president of SABIO, said that the group’s founding goal was to “raise awareness of immigration-related issues on USC’s campus.

“South Carolina’s experiencing a similar situation as Arizona and Georgia and the Southeast region in general with a growing Latino population,” Splawinski said. She believes many students have misconceptions of the political and social issues surrounding immigration.

Meanwhile, across campus at Capstone, Carolina Dining and SALA attempted to raise awareness of Hispanic issues and students in a more festive environment.

Gibbes Court was filled with a mix of reggaeton, salsa and merengue music, and the standard Barbecue Thursday fare was replaced with Brazilian steak, as Carolina Dining and SALA hosted their Carnaval Brasileiro.

Cynthia Steele, marketing director of Carolina Dining, worked with SALA in designing programs for Hispanic Heritage month. Steele said that dining would be working on SALA’s Salsa Night this month and the Day of the Dead later in the year.

“What we hope to accomplish is to get awareness out there that we have a Latino population at USC,” SALA’s vice president and fifth-year human resources and marketing student Jorge Arias said.


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