By Jovahana Avila
What does the League of United Latin American Citizens do?
For 88 years, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has served as the largest Hispanic organization in the United States. LULAC operates at more than 1,000 LULAC councils nationwide, which involve and serve all Hispanic nationality groups. The St. Edward’s LULAC council serves as one of these councils, which is classified as a student-led organization that works to fulfill the national mission, “to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights.”
LULAC’s nationwide efforts motivate the work of the St. Edward’s chapter, which works to serve the Hispanic community in Austin, Texas. The St. Edward’s LULAC chapter, notably, provides an open space where students can freely voice their opinions and engage in the political process.
Through LULAC, according to Alejandro Izaguirre, LULAC President, “we are motivating people beyond the organization to promote civic engagement within their respective communities.” Izaguirre, along with his council, works to create a strong platform for students to explore different aspects of government and the development of society through public service.
The LULAC council is made up of officers and members, where officers establish opportunities for members to civically engage on and off campus. Officers are made up of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Historia, and Treasure.
The organization approaches engagement through advocacy. Members are expected to advocate for issues that they care about and make efforts to engage their own circle of influence. Since LULAC is a national organization, the chapters have a structured way of organizing their membership.
What do you get out of participating in LULAC?
The St. Edward’s LULAC council has influenced and empowered students and organizations on campus to act on the issues facing the community and beyond. “We want to build coalitions around a wide range of issues that will get more people motivated in participating in the political process,” Izaguirre says.
LULAC hosted the “I STAND WITH IMMIGRANTS Day of Action” at St. Edward’s University, where they joined more than 100 colleges and universities across the United States in this event of solidarity for the immigrant community. At this event, members handed out informational flyers about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and stickers for allies. Members had the opportunity to inform the community about some misconceptions of the undocumented community in the United States. “This event was a resounding success because it got people informed and engaged in activism for the undocumented community,” Izaguirre says.
LULAC offers its members exclusive scholarships, internship opportunities and conferences that are district, state, and nationwide. As a member, you are connected to an extensive network that goes beyond the Hilltop and into the rest of the nation. For instance, while visiting State Representative Eric Johnson with the LULAC council, Izaguirre was able to obtain a legislative internship with Rep. Johnson for the 85th legislative session.
Members collectively work to increase the amount of participation in government. Furthermore, members have actively advocated for a number of issues including comprehensive immigration reform, education reform, and voter discrimination. These opportunities provide students with leadership development and experience in advocacy, which offers rich experiences that member can carry into internships and jobs. For instance, a LULAC council member started working on Kim Olson’s campaign for the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture serving as the volunteer director where she seeks volunteers for a grassroots campaign.
What does LULAC contribute to the St. Edward’s community?
St. Edward’s University ranked as the #5 “Best Colleges for Hispanic Students” in 2016, in recognition of its successful efforts in a Hispanic Serving Institution. LULAC, amongst other organizations and efforts, provides opportunities to help enhance the Latino/a student experience. Serving primarily as a leadership opportunity aimed to defend the rights and advance the well-being of Hispanic Americans.
Students engage with other members of the community through leadership, advocacy, and volunteer work on and off campus. The LULAC network, according to Izaguirre, “has allowed members work on a wide range of issues that target low-income and racial minority communities.”
Meetings are conversational and intentional in order to stimulate meaningful connection amongst members. Meetings follow Robert’s Rules of Order to provide structure, and the topics of discussion range from current issues to campus events, which provide depth to the meeting. Students can expect to attend monthly meetings and engage in campus-wide efforts to continue the legacy of improving the quality of life for all Latinos.
Overall, participating in LULAC offers students a comprehensive understanding of how to not only civically engaged but how to be ambassadors for their communities.
How can students get involved?
To be a member of this organization, new members pay a due of $21 and returning members pay $15. Membership in the St. Edward’s LULAC council enrolls you as a national member of LULAC. For more information on how to get involved and how to become a member, you can visit LULAC’s Facebook page or contact Alejandro Izaguirre at email@example.com.