SALSA helps students talk about political, emotional issues


Katia Rodriguez is a sophomore PR major and a board member of SALSA.

Jack Thomspon

The Spanish and Latino Student Association’s latest meeting got students talking about the recent record-breaking government shutdown, its effects on the college students in and outside of the Latino community and what they can do to make a change going forward.

Aylin Chagolla, president of SALSA, invited students to SALSA’s meeting Jan. 23 to discuss their feelings on the 35-day government shutdown, the potential construction of a border wall and discrimination. This was a discussion that Chagolla and many others in her organization thought was necessary for students of all backgrounds to have with one another.

“The most important part of that conversation were the underlying reasons for it,” Chagolla said, “which is discrimination and racism.”

This meeting is one of the many ways SALSA works to bring students together to discuss real world issues along with hosting events and holding biweekly hang-outs at the Student Multicultural Center. Chagolla and the rest of SALSA work to ensure that students have these important conversations to find ways in which they can talk about issues such as discrimination.

“It’s important for us to join those conversations,” Chagolla said, “not just shut ourselves off from those who have different opinions as us.”

At first, many of the students at the meeting were hesitant to speak about the shutdown. Chagolla said conversations like these are difficult for students to address, especially when they affect people personally. Chagolla challenged those at the meeting to think of what they could do to make a difference during these hard times.

“What can we do?” Chagolla asked, “Definitely get into leadership roles and just taking on a more active part on-campus as well as off-campus.”

Just a few weeks ago the Senate and the House approved a temporary deal to reopen the federal government. That short-term plan will end Feb. 15, leaving many to wonder if another shutdown is approaching. Katia Rodriguez, a board member of SALSA, is also waiting to see what will happen once this temporary plan reaches its resolution.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Rodriguez said. “I hope for the best, but I mean people are already affected by all of this. No matter what happens in the future these things have already happened.”

The government shutdown began in the turmoil that came out of President Donald Trump’s request for funding in order to construct a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In his 2019 State of the Union address Feb. 5, President Trump spoke about continuing his plan to construct the wall while still in office.

“Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.” President Trump said, “So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe again.”

It is clear from his speech that President Trump still has it in his agenda to pass the proposal for the wall. The shutdown caused from his previous requests affected numerous college students, and left many struggling to get financial aid through the government.

“I know of two people not (at Kent State) right now because they couldn’t get their financial aid in on time,” Rodriguez said. “That messes up people’s plans to graduate on time.”

College students from all over the country have experienced issues with financial aid delays due to the government shutdown, according to USA Today. As the deadline approaches, the government continues to search for ways to keep funding its projects in order to avoid another shutdown.

Jack Thompson covers Hispanic and Native American diversity. Contact him at [email protected].