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The Antelope

UNK alumnus hosts lecture on Latinx identities

UNK alumnus, Cristóbal Salinas, presents a lecture to the public of Kearney. Photo by Brianna White / Antelope Staff

In a public lecture titled “Shaping Perceptions: What is Latinx? And Who is Latinx?,” UNK alumnus Cristóbal Salinas took center stage to discuss the intricate web of Latinx identities and labels within the higher education landscape. The event drew a diverse audience of students and faculty to engage with Salinas’s expertise.

Highlighting the role of student activism, Salinas emphasized the transformative power that students wield in influencing change within educational institutions and their communities.

“Students have a tremendous and powerful voice that if they don’t speak, administrators are not going to make a change,” Salinas said. “If students speak, administrators and the community will respond to the students because we’re here to serve students. So it’s more about the activism of students and being able to find their group and their support.”

Salinas, an associate professor in the Educational Leadership and Research Methodology Department at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education, is known for his work in higher education research. He serves as the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education. His presentation delved into the evolving understanding of Latinx identities and the significance of terminology in shaping the narratives of Latin American-origin individuals in the context of higher education.

During his presentation, Salinas engaged the audience in a dialogue about the importance of Latinx identities, including Latin*, Latinx, Latina, Latino, Latiné and other variations of the term. These identities have been both misused and misinterpreted in various contexts, often leading to confusion and perpetuating stereotypes. Salinas underscored the importance of examining and understanding the subtle nuances and connotations of these labels within higher education.

Luis Olivas, the director of the Office for Intercultural Engagement and Leadership, expressed the significance of the presentation in fostering a more inclusive campus environment.

“I believe events like this are crucial as they welcome everyone, regardless of their familiarity with the subject,” Olivas said. “Whether well-versed or new to the topic, such events reinforce existing knowledge and introduce new perspectives. Ultimately, this contributes to our shared goal of creating a more inclusive campus, aligning with our mission to make UNK a home away from home for all students.”

The event was put on as a step in broadening the conversation surrounding Latinx identities within the higher education context and encouraging critical thinking about the power of terminology.

Marianna Ambriz, an undergraduate assistant for the IEL office, added her perspective, emphasizing the evolving dynamics within the Latinx community.

“I think it was important to learn about what it meant to be Latinx and what the definition was, especially as our community is starting to change with all the different pronouns.”

Salinas said he hopes the lecture will contribute to a more profound understanding of Latinx identities, promoting positive change within the field of education.

Harian Aldama, another undergraduate assistant for the IEL office, shared insights on the importance of the lecture within the context of perspectives.

“As a self-identifying Hispanic male, I typically use Latino to identify myself,” Aldama said. “Learning about alternative terms like Latin* and Latinx during the lecture was eye-opening. Nowadays it’s important not to make assumptions about how individuals identify. The presentation highlighted the importance of asking others about their identities rather than making assumptions.”

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    Dixie WhiteFeb 18, 2024 at 10:14 pm

    Brianna…your writing skill is incredible! I am so proud of you Sweetheart!