Students unite for Latino Palooza, celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Students gathering on Risman Plaza to celebrate Latino Palooza Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017.

Eden Kraus

Latino Palooza celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with Latin dancing, free food and piñata-making on Risman Plaza Wednesday.

The Center for Student Involvement (CSI), the Latino Networking Caucus (LNC) and the Spanish and Latino Student Association (SALSA) came together to organize the event.

Students danced to upbeat music and experienced a cultural celebration. Free food was available to sample, like rice dishes, chips, salsa and queso.

Subhi Husien, a junior exercise science major and attendee, said he had respect for the customs Latino Palooza participants demonstrated.

“It’s a fun, lively culture,” Husien said. “It’s beautiful. They put on a really great show here.”

Husien said he attended the event in previous years, but he made sure to stop by for another reason.

This year, Latino Palooza held a donation drive to raise money for aid in Mexico and Puerto Rico following the recent earthquake and hurricane devastation. CSI, LNC and SALSA also asked for material donations like water, non-perishable foods and clothing.

“You might as well stop by,” Husien said. “It just shows solidarity.”

Liza Henriquez, a senior English major and the president of SALSA, said the drive had a special meaning to her.

“Puerto Rico is my home, so it’s been really hard,” Henriquez said.

She added she had already seen many people donating, and felt glad they wanted to have fun and celebrate.  

“It’s kind of a big stress reliever for everybody on campus to have a big festival,” Henriquez said. You can just dance, eat and have fun.”

Ricardo Ortega, a sophomore history major and secretary of SALSA, said he was excited to attend the event again after experiencing it for the first time last year.

“It was awesome to hear the music and be around everyone,” Ortega said. “Someone even taught me to dance.”

Ortega said Latino Palooza is one of the biggest events that SALSA does.

“Latino Palooza is just a really fun, chill evening to get together and celebrate Latino culture,” he said.

To spice up the event, students challenged their taste buds with the jalapeño-eating contest. Participants had to eat as many jalapeños as they could within one minute. The winner achieved six jalapeños.

Imani Johnson, a sophomore fashion design major, said the contest was one of her favorite parts of the night aside from dancing. Johnson noted people united at the event.

“I think it was cool to see all the Latino and Latina people on campus,” Johnson said. “You don’t usually see them altogether.”

Hispanic Heritage Month lasts until Oct. 15 with events on campus going until Oct. 13.

For a full calendar of Hispanic Heritage Month events, visit

Eden Kraus is the international students and issues reporter. Contact her at [email protected].