Latino students find support with GENTE

April 29, 2013 9:00 AM

Chase Vicenzi

The student organization Generating Excellence Now and Tomorrow in Education (GENTE), which was started three years ago as a group to serve the Latino community at Tulane University, has found a niche on campus.


Stephanie Palencia and Marissa Yepez light incense on a Day of the Dead altar that GENTE members set up on the Lavin-Bernick Center Quad as a memorial and educational tool. (Photo by Emily Cardinas)

President and co-founder Efren Lopez says it is a source of pride for him that GENTE is a small minority on campus with a passion for “clearing up misconceptions that people may have about Latinos.” The impetus for the group when it was founded was to break stereotypes and educate on the Latino culture, Lopez says.

“GENTE is about promoting the awareness of issues facing the 'Latin@' community on and off the Tulane campus,” remarks Emily Cardinas, the group’s secretary. "We like to use Latin@, as opposed to Latino — it's more encompassing for all of our members.”

The organization has hosted a variety of events this academic year. At a movie screening, GENTE brought in two actors from the movie, A Better Life, and members of the Congress of Day Laborers to discuss immigration in America. The group hosted a welcome party for students through the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

In addition, undergraduate and graduate students and faculty and staff members went to Casa Borrega restaurant for food, music, student performances and salsa. At a “Bienvenidos a Nueva Orleans” event, GENTE members took a guided tour of New Orleans with a Spanish and Latin perspective. 

Lopez says that this semester concludes with a May Day (international workers day) rally.

“In the U.S. it is used as a day for rallies that raise awareness of Latino issues," he says, with past discussions about the Dream Act and immigration reforms.

Campus can be a culture shock for many Latinos, he says, and he hopes “GENTE can continue to grow and become a safe space for Latinos.”

Chase Vicenzi is a junior at Tulane who is studying communication and political science.

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