Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of profiles on ASU's diverse student coalitions. Learn more about the Asian/Asian Pacific American Student Coalition, Black African Coalition and Coalition of International Students.
Arizona State University's El Concilio was started over two and a half decades ago by six on-campus organizations who realized there was a bigger need for representation of Hispanic, Latinx and Chicanx Latinx/Chicanx is a gender neutral term often used in lieu of Latino/Latina or Chicano/Chicanastudents.
The coalition has since grown to new heights and hosts a number of different events each year. El Concilio's president, Angelica Rodriguez, talked to ASU Now about the group.
Question: How did El Concilio start?
Answer: El Concilio was started in 1991 by six organizations, the Chicano-Latino Law Student Association (CLLSA), Latino Graduate Student Alliance (LGSA), La Asociación de Estudiantes Puertorriqueños de ASU, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MECHhA), Hispanic Business Students Association (HBSA) and The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE de ASU). The six came together because they realized there was a need for more representation of Hispanic, Latinx and Chicanx students at ASU. They wanted to come together under one organization as a form of unity. Last year, El Concilio celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Q: What kind of activities does the coalition host?
A: One of the main activities that El Concilio does is help with the planning of Hispanic Heritage Month at the Tempe campus. We have put on several annual events that advocate, celebrate and educate the ASU community about the Chicanx, Latinx and Hispanic culture. For example, Voz de Sparky is a bilingual open mic event that allows students of different backgrounds to tell their stories and experiences. Another event is Diablxs Unidxs, which is an event that brings student member organizations (together) to promote what they have to offer at ASU.
We work closely with the Undergraduate Student Government, Programming and Activities Board, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Residential Hall Association, Student Alumni Association, Changemaker Central and the Council of Coalitions. We ensure that our students are being served and represented. El Concilio also works closely with administration to ensure the community we represent is also being served.
Q: What's your favorite part about El Concilio?
A: Since my first year of college, I have always commuted to school. A lot of the times as a freshman I felt a bit lost and overwhelmed. I felt like I needed to find a place away from home where I could grow as a leader and ultimately get involved on campus.
I stumbled across El Concilio through a friend and I first became involved as a programming director. I fell in love with the organization and everything it stood for. I have seen the coalition grow and that really is my favorite part.
I love watching people from different backgrounds come together to be part of something bigger. I love when someone comes up to me and says, “I found a sense of community,” or "I found my home away from home." El Concilio has allowed me to witness young leaders come together and advocate for their communities. It has been a blessing being part of an organization that has taught me what it means to be a leader and has allowed me to meet people who are just as passionate as I am.
Q: What's the biggest challenge your coalition has faced while you've been here?
A: The biggest challenge during my time as coalition president was about two years ago, when I first started with El Concilio. We had an amazing president named Jelissa Ruiz who brought so much light, love and passion for the coalition. I think for me, one of the biggest challenges was tragically losing Ruiz because she meant so much, and without her, El Concilio wouldn’t be where it is today. She created our core principles, which (are) to advocate, celebrate and educate.
Her death was something that was hard to overcome, but I always made sure that no matter what El Concilio does, she is always remembered. Her leadership helped develop this coalition. We remembered Jelissa at our banquet where we have an award for a student leader who has advocated, celebrated and educated through their organizations. The award is named after her and I am thankful for everything she has done.
There will always be challenges, but throughout the last couple of years we have had great guidance and support, whether it’s through advisors (such as James Randall), the Dean of Students Office, Student and Cultural Engagement staff and other faculty and staff. The leadership team of El Concilio and leaders of member organizations play a key role in the ability and willingness to overcome challenges.
Q: What's your weekly schedule look like?
A: I am currently a senior studying Business Management and taking 15 credits. I spend most of the time commuting from west Phoenix every day, whether to downtown Phoenix for my internship or Tempe where I go to my classes and take care of all that needs to be done for El Concilio. I usually spend around 10 hours at our office in the Student Pavilion, whether it is having meetings or working on small projects. I also have weekly meetings with my executive board to discuss goals for the week and tasks that need to be done.
Q: Do you have any events coming up?
A: We just wrapped up our participation in Hispanic Heritage Month throughout October. In addition, we intend on supporting our other coalitions and working to collaborate on programming for their Heritage Months. Next semester, we hope to host a mixer for our member organizations where we can all talk about issues affecting our community. A lot of the work we are doing right now is preparing for the spring.
Q: How can people get involved?
A: People can get involved by attending our general meetings, which happen every other Monday at 5:15 p.m. Starting next semester, they will be in room 302 at the Memorial Union. There are also opportunities to start partaking in the Hispanic Heritage Month committee, which begins next spring around March or April.
In addition, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Those interested can also join us at Sun Devil Sync and sign up for our newsletter, where they can receive information about our member organizations and their events coming up.
Top photo: Representatives from El Concilio pose at a banquet.