Latin American FEATURE: Student Association Creates Community and Breaks Barriers

Student lead, the Latin American Student Association aims to create a safe space for Latino students to feel represented.


Gracie Coleman

Junior Felipe Reinas-Salas sostiene un cartel que promueve la ‘Latin American Student Association’. El club se reúne los miércoles en la sala 411.

Alicia Narum

After moving to the United States from Columbia over a year ago, junior Felipe Reina-Salas’ mother had been encouraging him to start a Spanish club, hoping it would allow him to connect with other Spanish speaking students. However, after being disappointed with another barely recognized Hispanic Heritage month, and continuously seeing Latino culture and communities misrepresented, Reina-Salas decided that a Spanish club is not quite what the school needs. It needs a Latin American Student Association. 

Officially starting up late Oct., the Latin American Student Association [LASA] is an organization of students who aim to create an inclusive environment for Latino students, spread awareness and work to help break cultural and language barriers within the Free State and the community. While the association includes students who speak Spanish and/or are Latino, neither are a requirement to join the association. 

“[LASA] is not about being Latin American, it’s about supporting the Latin American people within the community,” Reina-Salas said. “It’s about making it a niche for people that don’t feel represented.” 

LASA aims to create this community by offering students a space where they can speak to others in Spanish, discuss their own cultures and heritage, and address issues that Latino communities face. 

With big plans, LASA is also currently talking with University of Kansas [KU] officials to help Spanish speaking families with Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FASFA] and scholarships, aiming to have a copy of Free State’s weekly emails sent out in Spanish, and hoping to create fun events for both English and Spanish speakers. 

LASA’s next meeting is Dec. 15 where they will combine with the South Asian Student Association [SASA]  a potluck night.