Hispanic-Latino Association returns to UA

Garrett Jones, Contributing Writer

The University of Alabama’s Hispanic-Latino Association held its first meeting on Feb. 10 after a three-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This semester marks the official return of the HLA and its commitment to building community among Hispanic and Latino students. 

President Marcella Martinez said the HLA is “a community where people who identify as Hispanic or Latino can come together and have events, or just get to know one another, finding each other on campus.” 

“Oftentimes [the Hispanic-Latino community] is very hard to find,” Martinez said.

As of fall 2021, there were 2,037 Hispanic or Latino students at The University of Alabama, or 5.32% of the student body.

Over 60 students have joined the club’s GroupMe in the first two weeks. 

“That indicates that there’s a lot more students on campus that identify as Hispanic or Latino that could benefit and enjoy being part of [HLA],” Martinez said. “It’s not a commitment you have to make. You can join the GroupMe and just listen to the opportunities going on.”

The organization is also open to those interested in Hispanic and Latino culture.

“I actually found the constitution a couple days ago, and I was reading through it,” Martinez said. “And the people that originally created the association had in mind that anyone can join it, [though] I think right now we are just trying to get those people that identify as Hispanic or Latino to get together so that we feel comfortable with each other.” 

The resurrection of the HLA is largely because of Carina Villarreal, the previous president of the organization. Martinez said it was Villarreal’s “own personal project.” 

Elections for committee chairs and executive roles have begun as the organization redefines its purpose on campus.

The process took a full semester and involved extensive communication with The SOURCE, but Martinez said the University was supportive in the process of reinstating the HLA. 

She specifically referenced the contributions of the Blackburn Institute; the Hispanic/Latinx Faculty and Staff Association; former Vice President of Student Life Myron Pope; and Angel Narvaez-Lugo, the interim adviser for the Student Government Association.

The HLA hopes to improve admissions among Hispanic and Latino students by highlighting the organization at orientation events like Bama Bound and sending recruiters to American schools in Latin American countries. 

The organization also hopes to host Hispanic-Latino graduation events for students and their families, and Martinez shared plans to acquire graduation stoles for HLA members.

HLA can be found on Instagram and Twitter @ua_hla.