New club provides communal space for Latina students to explore, celebrate their identities

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Members of Las Hermanas Aliadas met for the first time Sept. 18 to discuss their experiences as Latina women. The new club, formed by President Jennifer Vasquez (junior), is dedicated to providing a safe place for the Latina women of Occidental to form a personal and professional alliance.

The club meets 8-9 p.m. every Thursday at the Studenmund Conference Room to discuss the highs and lows of the week, current events and difficulties they face as a minority on campus. Club meetings will eventually have members engage with the local Latino community, starting with a Nov. 2 event in Boyle Heights celebrating Dia de los Muertos.

In creating the club, Vasquez sought to build a Latina sisterhood within Occidental.

“After two years [at Occidental], I realized that we needed a club that can provide a safe space for Latina women,” Vasquez said. “I wanted a support network that could really just serve as a resource to them, both now and in the future.”

Vasquez spent the summer drafting the constitution and petition for the club and researching ways to build the club network. Over the same period, she filled the executive board positions to ensure that the club would be functional at the start of fall semester.

For transfer student Georgina Garcia-Obledo (sophomore), the club provided a way to find a community within Occidental.

“[The club] is a nice way to continue to feel connected to that aspect of my identity,” Garcia-Obledo said. “To not feel alone and to be able to talk about shared experiences with someone else and having them understand me from the inside.”

Career Development Center (CDC) Internship Coordinator Liselda Fabian serves as the club’s adviser and as a professional mentor to club members.

“My hope is that the members of the club get exposed to and become frequent users of the CDC and their participation goes beyond attending our events,” Fabian said.

Vasquez sought out Fabian as an adviser for the club not only because of her professional position, but also because of her personal connection to the club. As a Latina herself, Fabian can identify with the need to build a support network within Occidental.

“As a Latina who attended a similar liberal arts college, I wish that I had a club like this to provide support and camaraderie,” Fabian said.

After establishing a sense of fellowship among club members, Vasquez wants the club to co-sponsor social events and fundraisers with other Latino groups on campus, including Los Compadres, the Latino club at Occidental.

Members of Los Compadres support Vasquez’s goal to create the same space for women that is available to Latino men on campus.

“Los Compadres is a great support group for all the Latino men on campus,” member Marcos Demetrio (junior) said. “So having the same thing for the women on campus is important. I’m really happy that [Vasquez] has taken the initiative to start the club.”

For the time being, Vasquez wants to focus on building the trust and companionship of the women within the club.

“Anyone who wishes to come be a part of la hermandad [the sisterhood] is welcome,” Vasquez said.