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The festivities kick off for Hispanic Heritage Month

Salsa dancing, dominoes and free food are enough to entice some students to participate in the celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month, but Diana Cooke said that’s not the only reason they should come out.

“We really encourage everybody to come. We would like to expose everyone to Hispanic culture because it is so diverse,” said Cooke, a member of the Hispanic Heritage Committee.

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, USF’s Center for Multicultural Affairs, Sigma Lambda Gamma and the USF Hispanic Heritage Committee are principal sponsors and organizers of the planned events.

“Most of these events are free or low cost, and we encourage students to come. They don’t have to be Hispanic, and the events are open to the whole University,” Cooke said.

Approximately 10 percent of USF students, both undergraduate and graduate, list themselves as being of Hispanic descent, according to USF Drop/Add Enrollment Profile. Hispanic students are the second most common minority on the USF campus, second only to African American students who comprise 11.3 percent of the student population.

Tuesday night Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority sponsored an event called “Latin Nights.”

“Latin Nights is basically the dancing of the Latin American countries. Dancing is a big part of Hispanic culture. (Tuesday we showed) all different types of dance from Central America to the Caribbean,” said Una Bilic, a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma who helped organize the events sponsored by the sorority.

Thursday there will be the USF Hispanic Heritage Celebration Kickoff Event.

“(The kickoff event) is to honor new Hispanic fellows and graduate students who have come in, and we want to recognize them,” said Cooke. “We’ll have entertainment and free food, which I known students love. There should be some singing and a guitarist that play’s Spanish guitar.

There will be awards given out for people who have contributed to the Hispanic community. Of the different categories, we also have a student category.”

Immediately following the kickoff will be “Domino Night.”

“Dominoes have always been a part of Hispanic heritage and culture. Why, I can’t tell you. Maybe because it’s cheap and fun to play. But you can go to any gathering or party from Puerto Ricans to Mexicans, and there is always dominoes,” Bilic said.

The Center for Multicultural Affairs will host a “Harborside Dinner and Dance.”

“We’re having a dance that’s going to feature a Hispanic band named Sentimiento Nacional. We’re going to serve dinner and we’re going to have a salsa instructor there to give salsa lessons,” said Steven Marshall, coordinator for Multicultural Affairs.

To cap of the week’s events is “Latin Fest.”

“We’re going to have a live salsa band that typically consists of 10-15 members,” Bilic said. “We’ll also have a radio station there, La Mega. They will have a DJ out there who’ll also be giving out t-shirts for free.”

For more information about Hispanic Heritage Month and other events visit and select Hispanic Heritage Celebration.