Latinx Leadership events plan to pop the “Trinity bubble”

The class hosts five events this spring to spread Latinx culture and connect students

Latinx Leadership’s lotería night on March 8 rang in the first of five events planned to take place in upcoming weeks. The class is hosting a Kickball Carne Asada on March 31, a leadership summit on April 1, an alumni event on April 20 and finally a quinceañera for LeeRoy on April 21. All five events connect Trinity’s Latinx community with students both inside and outside of Trinity and allow students to break free from the “Trinity bubble.”

The course was created by Juan Sepulveda, the president’s special advisor for inclusive excellence, in an effort to bring together Latinx students at Trinity and share Latinx cultures with others. Sepulveda described the course’s purpose through a metaphor of mirrors and windows.

“You have to be able to look in the mirror and see folks like yourself, but you also need to look out the window for people who are different from you and … define ways to kind of connect and build those relationships as well,” Sepulveda said.

The course acts as a vehicle for both unifying and spreading various Latinx cultural traditions, but the students are the pioneers of the resulting events. They’re tasked with brainstorming and bringing events to fruition, while the professors — Sepulveda, Rita Urquijo-Ruiz, Dania Abreu-Torres and Elseke Membreno-Zenteno, take a more passive approach.

“Our job is to kind of help them figure out how to get it done, but they’re the ones taking the lead,” Sepulveda said. “They’re making it happen.”

Two of these students, Kaleigh Cansino and Nayeli Aleman, are leading the production of three of the events: lotería night, kickball carne asada and LeeRoy’s quinceañera. Cansino, first-year sociology major, recalled her and Aleman’s reasoning behind throwing a quinceañera.

“There was a moment in class where we both looked at each other and were like, ‘quince, quince,’” Cansino said. “We learned that the MAS [Mexico, the Americas and Spain] program missed their 15th anniversary because of COVID. They’re 17 now, but we wanted to go back and make sure that they were celebrated … so we found a way to make a quince on campus.”

The quinceañera and the other events were inspired by a want to break the “Trinity bubble.” This phenomenon is pervasive at Trinity, according to Sepulveda.

“There are so many incredible things to do on campus. … The challenge of that can be a little bit of the ‘Trinity bubble.’ Like, why would you ever leave? There’s so much great stuff going on,” Sepulveda said. “The class is also really looking to say ‘How do we take advantage of where we are located?’ We are one of the few national liberal arts colleges in the country that’s actually set in the city. … We’re in this incredible Mexican-American-majority city.”

This 65% majority isn’t reflected at Trinity, and the events strive to bring Trinity closer to that representation. Cansino emphasized the inspiration behind the lotería, kickball and quinceñeara events.

“We are here in San Antonio, but it doesn’t feel like it, and we wanted to remind people that they’re still in San Antonio. It goes beyond the Pearl and the Riverwalk,” Cansino said.

Sticking within Trinity keeps students from experiencing the expansive culture of San Antonio, and Aleman, first-year sociology and global Latinx studies double-major, argued that their events encourage students to venture beyond what they know.

“All of these ideas were inspired by us being from San Antonio and kind of struggling to find our place on campus and just missing our homes even though we’re in the same city,” Aleman said. “[We’re] bringing [these ideas] to campus to make it feel like we’re still at home and to make other Latinx students feel like they also have a place because we know that feeling is not isolated within ourselves.”

The upcoming leadership summit on April 1 holds the same motivation. The summit will bring together Latinx students from all across San Antonio, inspired by a summit in Washington D.C. Zoe Flores, sophomore anthropology major and leader of the upcoming summit, discussed its purpose.

“One of the main purposes [or] important aspects of the summit would be the fact that it’s getting us out of the Trinity bubble. I’d say it’s also a safe space for students of color because Trinity is persistently white,” Flores said.

The summit gets students closer to San Antonio with the inclusion of students from other universities. Adam Garza, junior neuroscience major and co-creator of the summit, described their longer-term goals.

“We’re trying to build a network with the Latino students in the city,” Garza said. “Hopefully from this, we can build better connections and from that, we can build potentially, stronger initiatives or programs where we can benefit Latinx communities.”
Aside from the opportunity for students to expand their understanding and appreciation of San Antonio and its Latinx culture, the summit offers an opportunity to uplift Latinx leaders in San Antonio, as Flores elaborated.

“I think that the summit will provide people with the opportunity to expand their networks with people outside of Trinity and outside of their own institutions,” Flores said. “I think it will provide people with the space to finally talk about something that’s been on their mind for a while. I think that it will definitely create a newfound community, so it would be like a new community of Latinx leaders coming together to make a change in San Antonio.”