BYU student clubs host Hispanic and Latina women panel

From top-left, Rebeca Knapp, Amanda Galán, Carla Calderón, Gina Villalobos, Franchesca Lopez, Perla Escobar. BYU student clubs hosted a panel to highlight the Hispanic and Latina women on campus. The panel was held via zoom. (Amanda Galán)

Multiple BYU student clubs came together to host a virtual panel for students and professors Thursday, Oct. 15 that highlighted Hispanic and Latina women at the university in honor of Hispanic Heritage month. 

The panel was organized by students from Hispanos Unidos, Global Women’s Studies and Women of Color at a time when the university is moving things forward to bring awareness to and “root out” racism in the BYU community. The Committee on Race, Equity & Belonging and events like Racial Stress Awareness week are part of the university’s efforts.

“I never thought I could actually do something I was like, I’m just an undergrad,” said Amanda Galán, an international student from Ecuador. “The reason why I decided, I even thought about this panel was because of professors that put that in me, and I knew that I was responsible for my community.” 

The five panelists — Perla Escobar, Carla Calderón, Estela Marquez, Gina Villalobos and Franchesca Lopez — shared their experience as a Latina or Hispanic female student or staff at the university with a virtual crowd of over 100. Galán confirmed that 120 different people, students and professors included, attended throughout the hour-long panel. 

“There was so many professors that showed up, I was amazed,” Galán said. “I just felt like so proud of being at BYU and the change that is happening.” She even said some professors were offering extra credit for their classes by attending the panel. 

After the panelists introduced themselves, they shared their experiences and perspectives by answering audience questions about how to be an ally, things that should change in the BYU community, and the importance of Hispanic and Latina voices at the university.  

Giardely Baca, the vice president of the Women of Color club and BYU sophomore, said they were purposeful in the way they chose which questions to ask the panelists. The moderators collected questions through a google doc form and they were the only ones with access to them. 

“I was looking at the questions people were sending in and making sure they were appropriate and formed better,” Baca said. The group didn’t want to repeat what happened at the Black Immigration History panel in February, where offensive questions were submitted and the audience could see them. 

After the panelists shared their experiences, Galán wrapped up the meeting by thanking the audience and inviting them to “commit to something.”

“I just hope that students take advantage of the different opportunities that BYU is offering right now and listen and try to go outside their comfort zone,” Baca said.

Hispanos Unidos is hosting another event alongside the Black Student Union at BYU Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. titled, “The Afrolatinx Alliance.”

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