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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Hispanic Heritage Month embraces culture

Percentage of Chico State’s Hispanic population. Photo credit: Michaela Sundholm

Aug. 23 to Oct. 15 marks Chico State’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, giving a fast-growing demographic at Chico State a chance to honor their culture.

Sarahy Barcenas, a freshman biochemistry major, was one of the students in attendance for the showing. For her, Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance to take a look at her culture.

“It means being proud of where I came from, and seeing where my culture has been and where it is now,” she said.

The film “Harvest of Shame” was one of the events that was part of the celebration. The film, which was made in the ’60s, focuses on the conditions of migrant workers across the U.S.

Susan Green, associate professor of Chicano studies and history, facilitated the event.

She hoped that the event would better students’ understanding of migrant families and their conditions, she said.

“I wanted to show this particular film in relation to the book in common, ‘The Distance Between Us,’ because it deals with the issue of migration,” Green said. “I think the film provides a context for the book.”

The process of looking at migrant workers has been going on for a long time, she said. The film has a very heavy tone of advocacy through showing how dehumanized these people are. She hopes students will walk away from the film with a new view on the life of migrant families in the U.S.

“One of the things that students will see is that things have not changed that much over the last 54 years, that working conditions and the wages haven’t improved that much,” Green said. “A lot of the things that people were concerned about in 1960 haven’t changed.”

The monthlong event is sponsored by Chico State President Paul Zingg’s office, Green said.

“This is the first time in a long time that the president has sponsored a Chicano studies series,” Green said in her opening talk for the film.

When Green started working at Chico State in 1999, the Hispanic population was 8 to 9 percent. This year, the incoming class was 39 percent Hispanic, with the total Chico State population at 25 percent Hispanic. This means a lot of progress for Chico State’s goal of diversity.

“It really is night and day,” said Green. “Today every fourth student on campus is Latino. That is a really big deal.”

The 25 percent means that Chico State is a Hispanic serving institution, which means the campus has been able to achieve and maintain a 25 percent Hispanic student body.

“There is a commitment that comes with that in terms of providing access and successful completion support services to make sure we aren’t just bringing in 25 percent and not having them successfully completing school.” Green said. “We are moving in that direction and it is really exciting. We have always thought it was possible.”

Michaela Sundholm can be reached at features [email protected] or @Michaela_Sun on Twitter.

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