Adrian Diaz was walking out of the Robert E. Kennedy Library when he heard a distant but familiar sound. As he kept walking, the sound of stringed instruments grew clearer.
What Diaz heard was a mariachi band performing on Baker Lawn celebrating the opening of the Latinx Center for Academic Success and Achievement (La CASA) during Fall Quarter.
“It sends chills throughout your body because you don’t experience that as a Hispanic here at Cal Poly,” he said.
Diaz is the president of the Latinx Cultural Association (LCA). The biomedical engineering senior has seen the Latinx community at Cal Poly grow, starting from his time in the Tenaya dorms as a Cal Poly Scholar to now in his fourth year, where he witnesses the opening of La CASA and is hosting the first annual Latinx Banquet.
The banquet on Saturday, May 27 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Chumash Auditorium will feature Banda, a genre of regional Mexican music, food catered from Efren’s Restaurant and guest speakers.
There are six clubs involved in the banquet: the Latinx Business Student Association, Construction Management CASA, Latinos in Agriculture, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, LCA and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
“I feel like [the banquet] shows how much our group on campus has grown to the point where we can throw something like this,” he said.
During his freshman year four years ago, Diaz said he still “definitely felt like a minority” whereas now he says that he sees a lot more Latinx people on campus.
“Even just talking about scholars, it was such a small group of us,” he said. “So, we were able to get to know everyone a lot better.”
Even as Cal Poly’s Latinx community continues to grow, Diaz said it’s on the clubs and Latinx Senate to hold events – such as the banquet – to bring everyone together and actually get everyone in one place.
Diaz appreciates the increase in the number of Latinx students, but he points out that it’s “harder” for new students coming in now because there are so many students seeking resources.
“The support that I had my first year is kind of hard to sustain now,” he said.
Diaz brings up the fact that in his first year he had a mentor through Cal Poly Scholars. His mentor had eight mentees. Now as a mentor himself, he has 20 mentees.
“It’s a lot harder to actually support every mentee,” he said. “The Cal Poly Scholars team is very strong. They hire great people, but it’s not enough of them.
According to Diaz, events like the banquet are a great way to show the campus that the Latinx community is here in big numbers and can do “great things” on campus.
“We can hold events to celebrate our culture and get together,” he said.
The LCA held their first banquet last year for their own members, but this year Diaz wanted some “bigger and better.” Instead of having a DJ, Diaz said LCA wanted to have a live band that “represents more culture.”
He also wanted to include all the other Latinx clubs on campus. “We didn’t want it to be a celebration of LCA, but a celebration of the Latinx community here on campus.”
Diaz said that anyone who wants an introduction to the Latinx community should come to the banquet.
“What better way to get introduced to the Latinx community,” Diaz said. “I mean live music. We’re gonna get fire food from Efren’s. You get to have all the Latinx clubs in one place.”
“So no matter your background, your major, you’re gonna find people who may share similar interests and have a similar background,” he said.
Tickets for the Latinx banquet can be purchased for $25 through the Linktree on the Cal Poly LCA’s Instagram (@calpolylca).