Home OpinionEditorial EDITORIAL: The Importance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions

EDITORIAL: The Importance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions

by Sofia Acevedo Valencia

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationally by Hispanic and Latino Americans to feel proud of their heritage.

In last week’s editorial, we discussed issues within the Hispanic and Latino communities. This week, we will look at the importance of Montclair State University’s status as a Hispanic-serving institution.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are defined as institutions of higher education that have an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students.

In 2016, Montclair State became eligible to be an HSI, which allowed our university to expand opportunities and services to serve Hispanic students and help them obtain a degree.

Besides becoming an HSI, The Office of Hispanic Initiatives at Montclair State is “dedicated to upholding the university’s allegiance to promoting an inclusive environment to support the success of all Hispanic students, faculty and staff.”

During Hispanic Heritage Month, groups on campus such as the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and the Mexican American Student Association (MASA), among others, are hosting events all month long to commemorate the history of our communities and remind us why we are proud to be Hispanic and/or Latino.

At Montclair State, there is also the Hispanic/Latinx Alumni Network (HLAN), which helps Hispanic and Latino alumni stay in contact and connect with current and future students. They announced that as of Fall 2022, the Hispanic and Latino population on campus rose to 40 percent of all undergraduate students.

Additionally, the Montclair State Press Room confirmed that our university is only getting more diverse, with 45 percent of the incoming class of 2027 identifying as Hispanic.

Though it is more than obvious that Montclair State serves Hispanic and Latino students, besides having the label of a Hispanic-Serving Institution, why should our university care about us as a demographic?

First off, it should be recognized how much we contribute and work hard to be represented on campus, giving incoming students a place to belong away from home. From leadership roles, clubs, organizations, cultural sororities and fraternities, there is a place for people of Hispanic and Latino heritage.

Representation genuinely matters. People of color are more likely to experience imposter syndrome, which is when high-achieving individuals doubt their skills, intelligence or accomplishments.

Black and Latina college women have a harder time belonging to higher education or corporate spaces due to the obstacles they face because of sexism and racism.

CNBC reported that “Fostering community through campus organizations, employee resource groups, professional associations or even Facebook groups can help Black and Latina women manage their impostor feelings in professional and academic settings.”

It’s important for young Hispanic and Latino students entering college for the first time to see themselves cared for and looked out for, but most importantly, to feel like they deserve to be pursuing a degree and achieve everything they set their minds to.

At Montclair State, we have developed a sense of community and unity amongst ourselves and on campus that celebrates past, current and future generations of Hispanic and Latino students who enroll at our university.

We have given so much of our cultures and traditions for others to appreciate and learn from without expecting anything in return. Even if you meet Hispanics or Latinos different from you, you will find a friend in them.

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