Undocumented Initiatives is a ‘home away from home’ for students

Fiesta de Bienvenida took place, collaboration within various organizations

Students+gathered+on+top+of+Terrell+Library+Atrium+to+share+food+and+culture+with+each+other.

CATHERINE CIBOTTI

Students gathered on top of Terrell Library Atrium to share food and culture with each other.

PUNEET BSANTI

Undocumented Initiatives joined The College Assistance Migrant Program and the Chicanx Latinx Student Center for Fiesta de Bienvenida, a welcome party for students on Thursday. 

The fiesta was a way to celebrate the Hispanic and Latinx communites. There was food, music and dancing on top of the Terrell Library Atrium.

“We wanted to welcome all of our Latinx community, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the collaboration of student organizations and also multicultural fraternities and sororities,” said Marcela Pattinson, the director of Undocumented Initiatives.

Elvia Diaz, the retention counselor of the Chicanx Latinx Student Center, said this is the first fiesta in four years put together by the organizations. Various organizations helped out such as the Student Equity Center and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán. 

“We want to very much emphasize that this was a collaboration, we want to emphasize that word,” Diaz said. 

Many students showed up to the fiesta, and the event began with speeches made by the CAMP, Undocumented Initiatives and Chicanx Latinx Student Center leaders. Students who are affiliated and volunteer at the respective organizations also made speeches. 

After the speeches, everyone went in line to get chips, salsa and fruit such as watermelon. There were gift bags that were being handed out and booths set up by the Carson College and Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. 

“I feel very welcomed that I’m part of a community,” said Shakira Gonzalez, a freshman nursing major. 

Steve Bischoff, director of Multicultural Student Services at the Office of Student Equity and a WSU alum said that this is the first time they have done this level of collaboration and are going to continue doing so with organizations like CAMP.

“Hopefully no one does not feel welcome,” he said. 

Outside of the fiesta, Pattinson hopes that everyone feels welcome at the Undocumented Initiatives center and it is their “home away from home.” 

“We always have been a space, maybe hiding, maybe in the closet,” she said. “You have to come, we have beautiful murals that really tells the story of the struggle of our undocumented students here at WSU.” 

Pattinson said the center, for the first time, has mentors that are part of a mentor program. They are able to connect and help students navigate systems such as immigration.

“We have a partnership with the immigration clinic at the University of Idaho. This partnership has been established since 2016 which offers free consultation for all students system wide,” she said. 

Pattinson said this is a huge opportunity not only for undocumented students, but also for international students, who are the other half of the clientele. 

She said that another service the center offers is as a place to hang out and relax. 

“The center is offering a space for people to cry, to sleep, to eat, to really enjoy and I think that’s one of the big goals and missions of all the centers on the fourth floor,” she said. 

Pattinson said that just because a student is undocumented, that does not mean they do not have a story to share. Once students go to the fourth floor and enter the center, they just have to embrace and share.