Alianza, a recently formed club, is working to create and foster a unified community for Latinx students at Columbia.
Though Columbia is home to several Latinx student groups, including Chicanx Caucus and Grupo Quisqueyano, Jack Ruiz, CC ’19 and Elanie Parades, BC ’19 founded Alianza specifically to bring together all Latinx students, regardless of what language they speak or their nationality.
“When I arrived on the campus last year, I felt that there wasn’t a singular place where Latinx of any cultural background could just sit together and talk about their heritage, their culture, their language, whether they be indigenous, Spanish, Portuguese,” Krystal Molina, CC ’17, said at the group’s first meeting on Wednesday. “I’m really excited that there’s finally a place to do this.”
The name of the club—“alliance” in Spanish—holds a special significance for Ruiz and Parades, who identify as Ecuadorian and Colombian-Dominican respectively.
“We were trying to represent all Latinx students. And although all Latinx students don’t speak Spanish, it emphasized the unity that we were trying to strive for here on campus,” Ruiz said.
This concept of unity is key to Alianza, and it takes pride in that it is not specific to just one nationality—a distinction its founders are quick to emphasize.
“Coming here to Columbia as a Latinx student, I felt that at times I didn’t fit into a certain group,” Ruiz said. “There are many different culture clubs on campus, but they tend to be very nationality-specific. But there are Latinx students like myself who are Ecuadorian/Guatemalan, or it can be Bolivian, or Salvadorian, who do not fit into those groups. And I feel that Alianza was a necessity for these underrepresented Latinx groups on campus.”
Alianza members plan to hold discussions on immigration, the Latinx experience in the United States and, more specifically, at Columbia, among other topics relevant to the collective Latinx community.
For Gloriana Lopez, CC ’19, an international student from Costa Rica, the creation of the group comes at a critical time.
“It’s what I’ve hoped for for the last three years,” Lopez said. “It’s really important, having something that lasts and that students in the future are able to access, and not feel as lost or clueless, and have a place where they can feel at home. That direct connection is sometimes very hard to find.”