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Ellie Frazier, MSS Intern

Reflection #4: Forming LACOS/LAZOS
At the beginning of the semester, Vincent and I discussed the importance of
reviving the Hispanic/Latino student group. It seemed given that such a student
diversity group was necessary, and we started to brainstorm what that might look
like. Drawing from the Ferguson and Thomas-Rashid (2011) piece I read earlier this
semester, multicultural student centers on predominantly White campuses are
pivotal in promoting campus-wide diversity and equity, bolstering institutional
support, channeling necessary financial support, and providing sociocultural support
for underrepresented minority students navigating the transition into largely
homogenous communities. The authors also emphasized that diversity education
and appreciation must be shared responsibilities among the entire campus
community. In order to give voice to and mobilize existing student interest in
forming a group for Hispanic/Latino students at Bucknell, and draw more students of
diverse backgrounds into the causes of this underrepresented group, an interest
group had to be formed.
Though Vincent and a few other students were able to put together
Hispanic/Latino programming last semester under the moniker MSS/OHLAS, Vincent
has emphasized that the effort to establish a stable group that can be recognized
and financially supported by BSG, and have continuity in student membership over
time, must stem from the students themselves. Specifically, a small, dedicated
group of students needs to be willing to step up and take charge of the process.
Fortuitously, I am in a position where I can jumpstart this group formation process
with Vincent’s expertise and support, and I have the time in the office to dedicate to
programming, drafting a budget, writing meeting agendas, etc. It is also helpful to

have prior leadership experiences to draw from, such as being President of my a
cappella group, that have helped me develop transferrable skills around student
group administration and maintenance. I consider it a privilege to be given the
opportunity to reestablish a diversity group that could ultimately have significance
in students’ lives in the coming years. At this point I feel rather responsible to push
for recognition from BSG (which involves assuring them of existing student interest
beyond just Vincent) and laying the foundation for a cohesive group that will thrive
well beyond May when I graduate.
It is helpful that Vincent has already laid out a potential group structure, and
proposed officer positions, member responsibilities, and programming ideas inspired
by former OHLAS events. Especially since I was not a part of OHLAS, he has been
pivotal in informing me about the prior efforts, successes, and failures of this type of
group. I am not reinventing the wheel, but merely offering my prior experiences
with student organizations and my own passion for recognizing the Hispanic/Latino
demographic at Bucknell as means of realizing a vision that already exists to some
degree. With Vincent’s proposal as the foundation, I am eager to organize excited
students and listen to their unique experiences and ideas, which will shape how the
overarching vision actually begins to take shape. I expect that specific
organizational and social elements of the group will crystallize and make more
sense as students begin to fill officer roles and commit to membership.
But in addition to excitement, as with most potentially rewarding
opportunities, I expect that the formation of this group (which will be called
LACOS/LAZOS) to involve significant challenges. Like all emerging student groups, it
is initially difficult to foster a sense of cohesion among members who may have no
prior foundation of trust amongst themselves, nor a shared vision for the group. A

group culture will ultimately take shape, and the students will develop norms,
traditions, collective expectations for group meetings and semester events, but for
now it is all about nurturing group cohesion. (It is also fortuitous that I am currently
enrolled in a Group Processes course in which we focus on developing trust and
functional group relationships.) Since there is such rich diversity in the
Hispanic/Latino demographic on campus, it may be difficult to get students to really
feel a sense of belonging and commit to establishing unity with students of diverse
backgrounds. The Hispanic/Latino identity is so complex. It tends to be an allencompassing term that superficially lumps people together based on shared
language and skin tone. But below the surface, the Hispanic/Latino identifier refers
to many disparate narratives of how various ethnic groups have come to this
country, been affected by colonialism and imperialism, faced integration or
marginalization in the U.S., and are still treated unequally in the U.S. Similarly,
Hispanic/Latino students at Bucknell come from an array of experiences and cultural
traditions. Every student brings a unique racial/ethnic. LACOS aims to celebrate this
diversity, give voice to overlooked narratives, and add layers of complexity to the
Bucknell community’s understanding of the Hispanic/Latino demographic.
Reflecting on my own experiences at Bucknell as an Education major with a
social justice orientation and affinity for exploring other cultures, I hope that most
Bucknellians are challenged to consider their position as learners and future leaders
in their respective fields. I hope that the aspects of the curriculum and Bucknell life
overall such as the “Diversity in the U.S.” CCC requirement, first year integration
series, student organizations’ events, etc. beg questions that revolve around
identity and inspire honest reflection. Beyond simple reflection, it is crucial for
students to have a framework to look critically at their privilege and their position in

society. I believe that every Bucknellian should be pushed to think about questions
like these: On a campus where it is adaptive to look and act the part of the majority,
in this case the upper-middle-class White student population, when and where do
students take the time to unpack their personal identities (e.g. race, ethnicity,
gender, SES, religion, political affiliation)? When you picture the “typical
Bucknellian,” what do they look like and how do they identify? For whom do these
identifiers appear the most salient in daily life? Does it matter that we acknowledge
and even celebrate our cultures? Why or why not? What kinds of feelings do these
questions raise for you?
I feel indebted to all those who have challenged me to incorporate layers of
complexity into my understanding of the Hispanic/Latino identity and scrutinize my
personal identity. One primary function of college is to explore issues of identity,
unearthing assumptions we maintain about ourselves and others. I think student
diversity groups could play an even more significant role in that process at Bucknell.
At the beginning of this semester, I felt a little awkward helping to establish a
reincarnation of a group that I did not originally take advantage of. It was not for
lack of interest, but rather, I felt almost underqualified because I don’t speak
Spanish fluently and have been out of touch with my Panamanian culture due to a
variety of personal factors. When I expressed these hesitations to Vincent at the
beginning of the semester, he appreciated that I acknowledged my own feelings. He
reassured me that students come into college with a variety of experiences and
personal goals in terms of identity exploration. Additionally, factors like generational
status, language spoken at home, hometown demographics, etc. influence students’
previous participation in and identification with their cultural background, which
affect their desire to pursue a diversity group when they arrive on campus. I want to

encourage interested (but perhaps hesitant) students to come and at least check
out LACOS, reassuring them that the members will be diverse even if they are 100%
Hispanic/Latino. More importantly, this group is inclusive of all students. I hope that
LACOS/LAZOS will be a site of meaningful identity exploration, both personal and
broader, and that students will be able to suspend their judgments of themselves
and others so that they can embark on the process.