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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

UW-Madison Latine community members celebrate first day of Hispanic Heritage Month

Participants marched while chanting “Sí, se puede,” a motto representing Latine unity and strength.

<p>UW-Madison students and community members stand together in front of Bascom Hall, celebrating the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month at the March Up Bascom on Friday.&nbsp;</p>

UW-Madison students and community members stand together in front of Bascom Hall, celebrating the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month at the March Up Bascom on Friday. 

The UW-Madison Chicanx & Latinx Certificate Student Association and the Chican@ & Latin@ Studies (CLS) Department held the annual March Up Bascom (MuB) on Friday afternoon.

Friday’s event celebrated the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which honors all Latine Americans’ culture, history and overall achievements. Campus community members, representing various Latine nations, congregated with their respective flags in hand. 

Led by ChiclaCSA and CLS staff, MuB attendees walked up the hill together, listening to music and chanting words of motivation, like “Sí, se puede!” The phrase reached widespread use after being popularized by United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta during the 1965 Delano Grape Strikes, and translates to “Yes, you can!” or “Yes, it can be done!”

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UW-Madison community members march together on Bascom Hill for the ChiclaCSA and Chican@ & Latin@ Studies Program's March Up Bascom, celebrating the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, on Friday. 


After the march, the departments organized networking games and distributed paletas, also known as popsicles, to attendees. 

Beyond celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month’s commencement, MuB attendees celebrated themselves and their community at a school which, according to a 2022 student data report, has a 13.3% Hispanic undergraduate body of 2,645 students. Students said the MuB event created a welcoming environment for those who identify as Latine. 

Lenzy Xelhua-Ledezma, a Chicla student worker for the CLS Department, spoke encouragingly to attendees in front of Bascom Hall after the march. After thanking attendees for coming to the event, Xelhua-Ledezma said CLS organized the event to “show the UW-Madison community that they’re here to stay.” 

Starting the fall semester off with MuB allowed Latine students to meet one another and gain new connections. Paula Camargo, a senior from Oconomowoc studying international business and marketing, said MuB recognizes the Latine student body on campus. 

“It’s important to recognize that there is a Latino presence here,” Camargo said. “We’re here to stay, to succeed and to achieve our dreams like everyone else.”  

Students from the ChiclaCSA and CLS Department, in partnership with organizations like UW-Madison’s Latine Student Union, strive to create events and groups where Latine students and community members can interact with each other — especially at a large, predominantly white institution such as UW-Madison. 

Danitza Rodriguez Jimenez, a senior from Rice Lake studying international studies with a certificate in Chican@ & Latin@ Studies, echoed Camargo’s sentiments toward the day’s significance. 

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“It’s nice to see all the different Latinos on campus, especially because it’s a big campus and we don’t see each other a lot,” Rodriguez Jimenez said. 

With events like MuB, UW-Madison Latine organizations are able to offer Latine community members a sense of belonging and unification, especially for any new students. The 2023 March Up Bascom celebrated both Hispanic Heritage Month and UW-Madison’s growing population of Latine community members. 

“You really don’t know if someone’s Latino or not,” Rodriguez Jimenez said. “It’s nice to see everyone together and be able to march up together as a community.” 


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UW-Madison freshmen Sophia Flores of Kenosha, WI and Keyla Pillacela of Chicago, IL attended the March Up Bascom, celebrating the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, on Friday, Sept. 15. 

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Lauren Aguila

Lauren Aguila is a current photographer and writer for The Daily Cardinal. You can check out her work on Instagram at @shot.sbylaguila.

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