By: Maria del Toro
As a continuation of the inaugural University of Chicago-wide Hispanic Heritage Month celebration continued on October 2nd, where it joined the International House’s Founder’s Day to host Pachanga! on campus. Pachanga! is a Latin dance party and live music showcase that rotates venues around Chicago each month. Pachanga! has been featured on the Chicago Tribune, WBEZ, and WGN Radio as Chicago's Premier Latin Dance Party - and is regularly featured in Do312 events emails.
The event featured a DJ and a live musical performance, and attendees were greeted by walking through a pop up-mercado of Hispanic vendors lining the entryway. These Chicago vendors included Creaciones de Luna, a local jewelry maker, as well a several other stalls featuring cards and artisan products. Attendees received food tickets to redeem menu items from different Latin cuisines provided by local restaurants including Mi Fogota, Nellies, Café Media Noche, and Casa Yari.
The restaurants and vendors are critical to the local economy, in addition to embodying the unique culture of Chicago and the diverse palette of flavors, artwork, and style that defines it.
The Hispanic Heritage Month Committee prioritized finding a way to integrate and recognize the hardworking, grassroots Hispanic entrepreneurs who contribute a significant richness to the farthest corners of a vibrant city. Curating a space to recognize them was core to the celebration. The on-campus feature creates a unique opportunity for local vendors, many of whom are located in neighborhoods outside of Hyde Park where many university students and community members reside, to showcase and market their products to a customer base they might not otherwise reach. Enticed by samples and products from outside of where they normally eat, shop, and spend time, the Planning Committee hopes that community members will be motivated to explore new areas of Chicago to continue their exploration and support these businesses in the future.
The founding Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee was comprised of members from across the university, including graduate students and staff. The group brings a breadth of experience, knowledge, and commitment to bettering the University of Chicago community. Maria Ocasio is Booth’s Director of Diversity Affairs, managing 13 student groups and sits on the University’s Diversity Advisory Group. Gabriela Arismendi is a data strategist for Chicago Public Schools, an evening and weekend student at the Booth School of Business, and an officer for the Coalition of Minorities in Business. Tomas Uriostegui is a student at the School of Social Service Administration, and a member of the Latinx Student Association and Graduate Council. Milvia Rodriguez, who led the effort to host Pachanga! on campus, is the Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Academic Advising and Financial Affairs at the Harris School of Public Policy, where she also advises the Latin America Matters (LAM) and Minorities in Public Policy Studies (MiPPS). Maria del Toro was the grant writer for the Inclusive Climate grant that was awarded to introduce the pilot program for the celebration.
The celebration was also actively promoted to the Booth community by the Graduate Business Council’s Diversity Committee. The GBC Diversity & Inclusion Committee's mission is to create an inclusive environment at Booth where everyone feels welcome and diversity is celebrated. The committee is working to establish student coalitions that will address D&I-related priority areas throughout the school year. They will also be coordinating professional development opportunities that will help Booth students learn how to manage diversity in the workplace and create inclusive cultures wherever they work in the future. The committee plans to connect Boothies with UChicago-wide D&I efforts such as the Hispanic Heritage Month initiative so that students can engage across units and take better advantage of the resources that the university has to offer. Class of 2019 committee members include Andrea Mazzocco, Hind Hassan, Kristina Lee, and Herbert Zea. They will joined by Class of 2020 members soon – we invite the Booth community to engage in programming and support their ongoing efforts.