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SGA, Latino Alliance host second annual Noche Buena

The Student Government Association and Latino Alliance collaborated to host the second annual Noche Buena, an event dedicated to celebrating the Latinx community and culture.

Noche Buena was held on Friday, Nov. 10 at the Conaway Center at 1104 S. Wabash Ave. The nighttime event was made up of performances and art showcases. The theme this year was “El Gran Jaripeo,” which was inspired by a form of Mexican bull riding events with food, dance and live performances. Students were asked to wear vaquero apparel consisting of cowboy hats, boots, flannels and jeans.

Senior Carolina Romo, a fine arts major, came to the event after seeing a promotional flyer and was interested to see how the SGA and Latino Alliance were hosting the event. For Romo, Noche Buena is “creating an environment” that has “family-like energy.”

Last year, senior Elizabeth Barajas Vasquez, vice president of SGA and an English major, approached senior Steve Brizuela Fernandez, president of Latino Alliance, during convocation to create an event that “felt like a party” to increase the Latinx representation at the college. The first annual Noche Buena was held in December of last year, while this year it was “held a little earlier with a much bigger budget,” said Vasquez.

Vasquez said she advocated for an increase to this year’s budget for the event, which was about $300 more compared to SGA’s contribution last year.

“When we started talking about Noche Buena for this year, we anticipated a lot more people,” she said, comparing the expected attendance to last year’s event.

The timeslot for the event also increased by two hours – and according to Vasquez, there were around 125 people in attendance from 5 to 9 p.m. 

“The plan was to make a big event for Latinos,” Fernandez said. “It offers students opportunities to perform… especially Latin students.” Performers included Sam Martinez, Norma Espinoza, Nicole Nicolalde and Columbia’s Latin Ensemble.

Junior musical theatre major Adriana Hernandez Almestica was most excited for the dancing to take place. She has been looking for Latin clubs around Chicago and said the first stop was the Latino Alliance.

“I miss dancing,” Hernandez-Almestica said. “It’s the winter so you can’t go out, but traditionally you would have block parties and all that stuff, so you will be dancing outside.”

Sophomore marketing major and SGA representative Eryn Young said she heard about the event while attending SGA meetings and didn’t know what to expect.

“I really like how there are performances, and we are encouraged to dance,” she said. “I love it.”

Young said the event brings everyone together and teaches people who are not Latinx, like herself, about the culture.

Senior fashion design major Norma Espinoza is a frequent attendee of Latino Alliance events and signed up to perform a speech called, “Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: Empowering Latinx Youth”. It talked about her experiences as an Indigenous person in the fashion studies program and her advice to others like her.

Espinoza wishes there were more events like Noche Buena, which shows how united the Latinx community is at Columbia.

Columbia is close to becoming a Hispanic-serving institution, meaning nearly a quarter of the students identify as Hispanic. As of a report from spring semester 2022, 24% of the student body is Hispanic, just short of the 25% needed for the designation. The college stated that the majority of first-year students enrolled in Fall 2023 identify as Hispanic or Latinx.

Despite this, Espinoza said the college has not done enough to recognize the Latinx community, besides the events hosted for Latinx Heritage Month.

“It’s very much like we are tokenized for a specific time and then we are just kind of thrown off to the side,” Espinoza said.

Vasquez and Fernandez hope the annual Noche Buena continues into next year.

“We just hope that because we are seniors and both graduating this year” that students will “continue to host this tradition,” Vasquez said.

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About the Contributors
Miranda Bucio
Miranda Bucio, Former Campus Editor
mbucio@columbiachronicle.com   Miranda Bucio is a senior journalism major and reports primarily on Columbia's Latino Student Alliance. She has also reported on city film festivals, Student Government Elections and metro restaurants. Bucio worked for the Chronicle from August 2023 through May 2024.   Hometown: Riverside, Illinois
Allison Shelton
Allison Shelton, Reporter
ashelton@columbiachronicle.com   Allison Shelton is a sophomore journalism major, with a minor in advertising and fashion communications.  She primarily reports on Columbia's Student Government Association but has also written about sustainability, campus events and the college's unions. Shelton joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Lizeth Medina
Lizeth Medina, Bilingual Reporter
lmedina@columbiachronicle.com   Lizeth Medina is a sophomore photography major, minoring in journalism. Medina has written student profiles and reported on Student Diversity & Inclusion events, as well as Day of the Dead events and the ASL community at the college. She joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois