In Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month: 7 Multicultural Traditions at Hispanic Serving Institutions

by Carol Sandoval

Ah, yes! October: the month for fall photoshoots, pumpkin spiced lattes, and ridiculous amounts of candy corn. What most people don’t know is that October is also the second half of Hispanic Heritage Month, which commemorates Hispanic and Latinx culture, histories, and traditions from September 15 to October 15. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up focuses on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and the multicultural events they hold for their students.

1) Hodges University, Naples, FL—Annual Diversity Festival


Once a year, the Annual Diversity Festival brings together food, art, and people representing the various cultures of the Naples and Ft. Myers communities in southwest Florida. The festival begins with a Parade of Nations, and the event has attracted 3,000 attendees in the past.

2) University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM—Unique Ring Ceremony


This HSI sends off its students with a unique ring ceremony. After the successful completion of 60 credit units, alumni and students are able to partake in this event. The rings are “NMSUnique,” as it is the only university in the nation with a National Monument on it. Not only do they receive their class rings, recipients also dip their hand into a symbolic bowl of Lobo spirit, which serves as a reminder of their successes. The bowl is filled with paint made of acrylic paint, tempera paint, food coloring, and Kool-Aid that temporarily dyes the students’ hands Lobo cherry red to symbolize unity among the student body.

3) San Diego State University (SDSU), San Diego, CA—Warrior Walk


Game day at SDSU has a whole different meaning. This HSI radiates with school spirit two hours prior to kickoff. During the Warrior Walk, the band, cheerleaders, and Aztec mascot walk in with a full posse of excited fans. Although the walk is a ritual to the students and community of San Diego, it should be noted that there is much controversy around the mascot for its perceived cultural appropriation and many students are in the midst of fighting for a mascot change.

4) Central Arizona College (CAC), Coolidge, AZ—Día De Los Muertos Altares


One of CAC’s traditions is celebrating the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead every November 1. By providing art supplies and other materials, CAC encourages its students to commemorate their deceased loved ones. An altar is then created with individual visual art pieces dedicated to the spirits.

5) St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX—All School Masses


As a Catholic, Marianist HSI, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, stresses the significance of religious days and days of observance, including All Saints Day, Ash Wednesday, and Marianist Heritage Week. During these days, classes are canceled and masses are hosted in the school chapel. In addition to the spiritual masses, St. Mary’s University promotes and celebrates cultural diversity among the student body by hosting masses in Spanish and Latin Nights twice during the fall semester and again in the spring.

6) Azusa Pacific University (APU), Azusa, CA—Midnight Breakfast


Finals can be a stressful time of year. For this reason, APU treats its students to a breakfast the night before finals week starts. This Azusa breakfast menu includes pancakes, eggs, and plenty of coffee.

7) California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), San Marcos, CA—César Chávez Day of Service


César Chávez, one of the leaders of the Chican@ Civil Rights Movement, protested against unfair wages and unjust treatment of field workers in the Central Valley of California. Influenced by his work, CSUSM leaders dedicated March 30 as César Chávez Day to encourage community service among its student body. Services include repainting homes, planting flowerbeds, and cleaning areas of the community. The goal is for students to impact their neighborhoods as much as César Chávez once impacted the lives of many Chican@s in the U.S.

Do you know of other HSI traditions that honor Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us in the comments below!

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