Sigma Lambda Upsilon, a Hispanic sorority also called Senoritas Latinas Unidas, organized an open dialogue on social justice issues on Monday evening.
The event was part of Sigma Lambda Upsilon’s raices, or “roots,” week. This is an annual week of events for chapters of the sorority throughout the country.
The theme of this year’s week of events is “The Fight for Equality,” Exsenet Esler, a senior and member of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, said.
“The week is basically a whole open discussion on rights that people across the world are still fighting for,” Esler said.
The sorority has an event planned for each day of the week from Sept. 21 through Sept. 27, Esler said. The week is part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, according to Sigma Lambda Upsilon. Each of the eight members of the sorority was responsible for planning an event.
“Being such a small group does make things a bit difficult,” Estrada said. “We’re small, but we’re also trying to make an impact.”
Estrada led the Monday discussion. About 20 people attended the event. Audience participation was minimal at first, but attendees quickly became more involved in the discussion.
“How do you interpret social justice?” Estrada asked at the beginning of the event.
Discussion of this topic ranged from cultural stereotypes to gender roles. Though terms such as “perceived norms” and “social constructs” were brought up, the discussion continued to come back to the idea of acceptance of all people.
“It’s easy for us to get caught up in our daily lives,” Esler said. “We want to be able to look at the bigger picture about the issues that a lot of people have to face.”
Much of the discussion revolved around social justice in the workplace, such as hiring practices and wage differences. This is a way to understand the practical application of social justice and equality issues, Estrada said during the talk.
The goal of the evening’s discussion, as well as the events planned for the rest of the week, was to make students more aware of people who do not have a voice in society, Estrada said.
“Our sorority does a lot of community service, and this is another way to be that helping hand to people,” Estrada said.
Even when the presentation was officially over, most of the participants stayed for food and to continue an informal discussion. Many attendees struggled when trying to think of solutions to the social issues discussed during the event.
“Things can’t be changed quickly, but we have to make a move,” Luqmann Ruth, a senior who attended the event, said. “Things like this are a positive step towards that.”
Positive steps like this one are Sigma Lambda Upsilon’s main priority, Estrada said.
“I want to encourage everyone to stand up for what you believe and speak up for what is wrong,” Estrada said. “In order to see change, you have to be the change.”