For many students, finding a place to fit in on a college campus can be a struggle. Though finding one’s fit in any setting can be tough, there is one group on campus actively working towards making sure a certain sect of students feel welcomed.
La Contra is a new student-led group on campus created as a safe space of sorts, for women to come together and discuss the unique experiences that come with identifying as Latina and Chicana.
The group describes itself as “a mulitcultural feminist counter-space for empowerment and liberation through storytelling and speaking truth.”
For one the co-founders, 22-year-old communications and ethnic studies senior Erica Zamora, the group serves as the perfect setting to establish connections among her peers, as well as helping her find a purpose on campus.
“For me, it took a long time to get the hang of being a college-student. It’s really hard to feel included in this large campus,” Zamora said. “ I feel like each person finds their own path…and I feel like this is my path .”
Lucy Leon, a sociology graduate student and co-founder of the discussion group, agrees that making a connection to the campus can be difficult, mentioning the lack of latino representation on campus can be disheartening.
Though the lack of representation can make forging school connections tough, Leon hopes the group will be able to provide a source of comfort for those who seek it.
“I think I would like for us to be able to nurture, a place where we can gather, talk about about life experiences, and build support with each other, and raise consciousness,” Leon said.
While La Contra’s main focus is examining topics such as microaggression and identity politics as they pertain to women, the group worked hard to foster an inclusive atmosphere, welcoming both men and women of varying backgrounds.
With that said, La Contra also makes it clear the group is not an arena in which people should expect to learn more about Latino culture in the traditional sense of looking at its history.
Jessica Castellon, a 26-year-old sociology graduate, as well as another co-founder of the club, explains, “[The club] isn’t an educational space. It’s a storytelling, speaking truth, space.”
Castellon said, “The purpose [of the club] isn’t like a classroom session. Yes, people will learn from each others stories, but it’s not from a professor to student type of relationship. It’s a learning space from personal experience.”
As La Contra is anxious to stimulate some much-needed dialogue amongst its cohorts. And with one gathering already down, La Contra is confident it will be able to foster discussions that aid in creating a harmonic atmosphere among those who attend.
“I think at least through these conversations, it shows that there is a need for a space for Chicana and Latina women,” Leon said.
With the next meeting taking place October 8th in the mulit-cultural center, and the remainder of the meetings taking every other Wednesday in the same location, La Contra’s ultimate goal is to create a space where attendees can feel in tune with not only their community, but themselves.
“I feel like you come to this space if you needed healing, and I needed that,” Zamora said. “I can’t think of any fears.”