While the Caribbean Latin Coalition (CLC) was hoping for a hot and sunny day, they did not let the rain upset their festivities last Saturday, April 29. The coalition held an event titled “Heat Wave” where they joined in an end-of-the-semester celebration that puts a focus on different cultures and rejoices in the work the club has accomplished.
“We always try to have an event towards the end of the semester, where we celebrate with different clubs, all the work we’ve done with different food and music,” said fourth-year graphic designer for the Caribbean Latin Coalition, Katherine Mateo. “Last year, we had our Caribbean Latin Weekend, where we had a talent show and music, it was a fun time.”
Moving into this year the coalition had a different vision for what their celebration would be and Heat Wave was created in collaboration with a few other clubs.
“This year, we wanted to do things a little bit different and just rejoice at the end of the semester by celebrating different cultures and actually inviting more organizations,” said president of the coalition, Chantal Hernandez.
“This is the first time in a couple years that we collabed with many different organizations, obviously from different backgrounds, not only Latin or Caribbean,” she said. “The point is just to learn about one another and also share each other’s food as a way to represent our culture.”
Plenty of music played at the event and food ranging from brownies and fruit cups to pastelitos were for sale with the funds from each transaction going directly to the club selling them to provide for whatever events and programs they plan to put on.
There were a total of seven clubs attending alongside the coalition. The clubs present were the SUNY New Paltz LatinX Club, the Business Association for Students of Color (BASC), Envied Fashions, National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), the Latin American Student Union (LASU) and Latino Week.
As an organization, the Caribbean Latin Coalition, “aims to educate the campus community through the physical experience of culture through viewing our museum or various programs such as hands-on cooking classes or attending our annual fashion show,” their Engage profile said.
Second-year business marketing major and Vice-President of the coalition, Anabelle Mateo said, “The Caribbean Latin Coalition is a club based on creating a safe space for POC, Caribbean and Latinx students on campus. We host a lot of programs that deal with the education of Latinx and Caribbean culture.”
El Museo Escolar
The CLC recently prevailed in a battle to preserve their museum that is home to artifacts that outline the history of Caribbean and Latin culture and how it lives within the SUNY New Paltz campus. The name of the museum is El Museo Escolar.
“At the beginning of the semester, we were informed by the Student Association and school administration that they would be taking the museum away from us and about 1000 students signed a petition to save our museum,” said third-year event coordinator Adriana Reyes. “We find it’s very important for us to have a safe space for BIPOC students considering that this is a [predominantly white institution] and it’s essential to have a place that fosters creativity and fosters representing and taking pride within culture.”
The university intended on replacing El Museo Escolar with a multicultural center. The Caribbean Latin Coalition’s change.org petition said, “This is also another way they can ‘group’ all of us.”
After seeing the support of students that Reyes mentioned, administration granted the space back to the CLC with the intent on making El Museo Escolar an officially recognized museum by the university.
This was a triumph for the coalition and they used Saturday to celebrate their victory, not only for preserving their museum but for every victory they had with every event they put on this semester like the “Reclaiming Your Hood” program that talked about gentrification in New York and their annual “For the Culture Fashion Show.”
Moving forward, the CLC is looking to continue doing what they have been doing, fostering a place for the education of Caribbean and Latinx cultures and to provide a safe space for BIPOC students.