Letter to the Evanstonian: Latinx summit attendees feel pushed aside by location change

Jocelyn Segura-Santamaria, Guest Writer

The annual Latinx Summit happened a week ago, and it stirred up a lot of conversations, specifically due to the presence of Chelsea Clinton and her use of the auditorium.

     I’ve helped facilitate sessions for the last two years and am aware of changes and planning that goes on. Weeks prior to the event, the coordinator was asked if we would be able to move to the upstairs theater because a high profile guest was coming and needed to use the auditorium. Although, she was consulted about the decision to move us, she ultimately was put in a position where saying no wasn’t really an option. This prompted most of the conversation.

     It was great that students wanted to bring light to the situation by talking about it, but many people who weren’t on the board began to speculate about their perception of unfair treatment of the Latinx community at the hands of ETHS administration. From an outsider’s point of view, it  looked like the administration was  honoring  a white woman instead of the Latinx community. While this perception is not wrong, it also happened in a more specific way.

      Students were left feeling pushed aside and marginalized, but this happened in an interaction with security before an afternoon session. Students were standing in the first floor of the east wing, waiting for their session to begin. Safety told our coordinator to move the students into the room because Clinton was going to pass by. In that moment the students felt pushed to the sides, literally and figuratively. The fact is that Clinton’s presence in the building caused safety to put a woman who doesn’t attend ETHS first. We were pushed to the side, on the one day that we were to center our community. While I understand that policy and procedure must be followed, feelings cannot be ignored or erased.  It happened, we felt it, it mattered.

     Despite all of this, let’s not forget the positive outcomes of this year’s summit. We had the largest attendance to Latinx Summit. We collaborated with NU students and we hosted a dance; all of that happened through the school. Although we had bumps in the road, we still had a day to celebrate Latinidad in Evanston. We are still standing in spite of the hardships and want our space to grow. Hopefully this situation made people aware of how much their voice can bring change.