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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
<p>Cesar Cruz speaks about various social injustices surrounding the Hispanic-American community Aug. 26, 2015, at the Hispanic-Latinx Student Assembly. Cruz attends Harvard pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership.</p>

Cesar Cruz speaks about various social injustices surrounding the Hispanic-American community Aug. 26, 2015, at the Hispanic-Latinx Student Assembly. Cruz attends Harvard pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership.

The Hispanic-Latinx Student Assembly was centered around empowerment, culture and inclusivity.

When the event started Wednesday night, there was only standing room left in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom for attendees. The event’s theme was "¡Viva la Voz!," which means your voice lives on.

Jacof Terán, a UF sociology senoir and the senior director of HLSA, made it a point for his voice to be heard. Terán said he is a representation of his community, the Hispanic-Latinx community.

That’s why he focused on his voice. He said his goal is to make the assembly as inclusive as possible, and it started with the word "Latinx."

"I’ve been asked, ‘Is there a typo in the name?’" he said.

"Latinx" is used to express the wide varieties in Hispanic-Latinx culture, which includes queer, transgender, female, black Hispanic, non-Spanish-speaking Hispanic and other individuals who don’t fit into the label "Latino," he said.

He ended his speech with an emphasis on individuality in the Hispanic-Latinx community.

After his opening speech, UF President Kent Fuchs welcomed the energetic crowd — in Spanish.

Switching to English, Fuchs spoke of identity and how he identifies with UF’s Class of 2019.

"I consider myself a freshman, like all of my first-years," Fuchs said.

In the freshman class, one-fifth of students comes from a Hispanic-Latino background, and Hispanic enrollment is still on the rise, he said.

He added that different backgrounds raise the overall quality of the education at UF.

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The event directors tried to make sure all types of people were represented, including those from Multicultural Diversity Affairs, UF Student Government and the Gainesville community.

Michael Samper, a UF computer science freshman, said the event was eye-opening.

"It’s amazing to be with so many people that share your cultures and experiences," the 18-year-old said.

Because of this, Samper said he resonated with keynote speaker Cesar Cruz, who is a poet, human rights activist and teacher.

He moved from the spotlight on the stage and requested for the lights to be turned on.

"It’s not about seeing me," he said. "It’s about seeing each other."

He told students they should educate themselves and their history, and he emphasized that there is still progress to be made.

"Don’t celebrate your work," Cruz said. "Celebrate your voice. Celebrate your passion."

Cesar Cruz speaks about various social injustices surrounding the Hispanic-American community Aug. 26, 2015, at the Hispanic-Latinx Student Assembly. Cruz attends Harvard pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership.

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