LASSO-ing potential

A new Latin American organization at USF will provide students with more than just an opportunity to socialize.

Latin American Studies Students’ Organization plans to give its members a chance to discuss their Latin -American heritage as well as general educational topics.

But Sharon Espinola, LASSO treasurer, said this organization is geared to attract more than just Latin American students.

“This is an organization that will provide a means for students of all cultures and majors to come together with USF’s Latin American population in order to foster an interest in Latin- American culture and studies,” Espinola said. “One of the benefits of this academic focus will be to provide graduate students with a forum in which to express their thesis in front of their peers.”

Espinola said LASSO members will have the advantage of enhancing their academic work as sessions will be held during meetings that allow them to receive critiques from their fellow members. Espinola said the organization also hopes to bring in many high profile lecturers on varying topics.

Although several other Latin American organizations exist on campus to educate students about the culture – including the Latin American Student Association and Spanish Club -Espinola said they focus more on social events.

LASSO, which was established in the spring semester, has about 25 members. The idea for the organization stemmed from the efforts of two USF graduate students: Patrick Cosby and Lisa Lemke.

Maria de Los Angeles Crummet, the interim director for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, said LASSO is a great idea. Crummet said the department has been committed to embracing the Latin American student population. Crummet said the organization provides students interested in Latin American Studies with opportunities outside the classroom to receive help on their academic work while at the same time learning about Latin-American cultures.

“LASSO will be a great recruiting tool for bringing students into the newly formed master’s program in Caribbean and Latin American Studies,” Crummet said.

The majority of the members are graduate students, Crummet said, but the organization is hoping to attract more of the undergraduate student population as time progresses.

“We are here for the students,” Crummet said. “These students have put in a lot of hard work in getting together flyers, getting various promotions and even designing a Web site for the organization.”

In addition to academic activities, LASSO has various special events planned throughout the year. Some of these activities planned for the fall include an introduction by the USF Latin American & Caribbean Studies librarian to the resources available in the USF Library system, a cultural excursion at Viva La Frida restaurant and a lecture series.

Students interested in LASSO are encouraged to attend the cultural excursion at Viva La Frida restaurant Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m., or to stop by MC 2535 for more information.