Latino Community Affairs, LCA, hosted its first town hall meeting to discuss contemporary Latino-related political issues, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals rollback, with Latino students yesterday.
LCA, also known as UT Latinos, is a student-led organization that promotes Latino history and culture along with social justice issues. Sponsored by the UT Multicultural Engagement Center, the team serves to provide a vocal outlet for Latino students on racial issues such as the Charlottesville riots and the Trump administration’s planned dissolution of DACA.
LCA president Damien Rodriguez said the town hall meeting is a place to bring Latino students together.
“This is an user-generated discussion,” economics senior Rodriguez said. “I want Latino students to have a place to share resources and find emotional support. In a way, it’s a therapeutic session.”
Rodriguez said the potential DACA repeal prompted the organization host a public forum.
“No one knows what can be done on his or her own,” Rodriguez said. “Students are not in a position of power and we don’t know which direction to take in order to help DACA recipients. LCA is our way of coming to collective action and get tangible results.
Anthropology junior Ilse Colchado, director of community development of LCA, said she liked the intimacy that allowed Latinos to share their narratives and fears during the meeting.
“You see Latino problems portrayed in media but no one is really comfortable with talking about them in person at UT,” Colchado said. “Latinos are represented in the way that UT wants us to be represented. The administration is reluctant to talk about us, (and) that’s where we come in.”
Colchado also said it was unusual to see representatives from other organizations, including UT Sanctuary, Greek life and the International Socialist Organization, all in one place.
“To me, it’s a success to see engagement and hearing different voices from the Latino community. At the end of the day I’m happy that we had diverse input,” Colchado said.
Computer engineering senior Jose Camacho said he attended the town hall meeting because he needed a channel to support Latino students and faculty.
“We need a way to protect our undocumented Latino brothers,” Camacho said. “We need to collectively come together, whether it be protesting, emailing or just addressing the problem.”
Camacho said student organizations such as LCA are important to solving Latino-related political issues.
“UT is not a bubble away from real life,” Camacho said. “There is racism here, and not just from someone else’s perspective. It’s everyday life.”