The University of San Francisco is tied for first with Andrews University in campus ethnic diversity, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2024. USF can and should connect its students to progress-focused organizations and programs they may not have known about otherwise. It is imperative that USF’s partnerships are diverse in purpose so students can interact with all facets of their communities, especially as a celebration of their heritage and culture.
According to College Factual, 25.1% of USF’s full-time undergraduate population is Hispanic. University involvement with Bay Area Latine community organizations allows these students to develop leadership and service skills through community engagement. The hurdles Latine people face are as diverse as the community is, which is reflected by USF’s community partners.
One such organization is Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS), a nonprofit working toward “social wellness through multicultural practices, mental health care, individualized and collective support related to education, immigration processes, and work,” according to their website. The organization advocates for and provides food and water to Half Moon Bay’s predominantly Latine farmworkers.
USF’s involvement with ALAS started in the summer of 2020 when USF Program Coordinator for Catholic Educational Leadership Jane Bladesdale, along with her doctoral student Mauricio Diaz De Leon, helped tutor Latine children to literacy gaps fueled by pandemic-related school closures. The University Ministry supports farmworker families in Half Moon Bay with weekly tutoring sessions.
At the School of Law’s Immigration & Deportation Defense Clinic, law students work closely with unaccompanied minors and families to guide them through removal proceedings, asylum hearings, and interviews. According to the School of Law website, “The majority of clients are seeking asylum and come from the Northern Triangle in Central America and Mexico.”
At the School of Law’s Immigration Policy Clinic, students learn about and assist with immigration policy changes. Through the clinic, students educate people about their rights, advise lawmakers in creating effective immigration legislation, and partner with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network to assist detainees appealing to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
For students outside the School of Law, there are still opportunities to get involved with the work these clinics do. According to USF’s Solidarity in Action website, the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic has opportunities for Spanish-speaking students to “help with interpreting during asylum interviews, interpreting during psychological evaluations and translating Spanish documents,” among other things.
The Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good is another hub of student activism at USF, hosting many programs in which students interact directly with policymakers and potential voters.
It’s hard to effectively incorporate activism into a busy schedule, but all students should be able to find opportunities that reflect their unique ways of activism. It is essential that USF continues to offer diverse avenues toward community engagement, so that during Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond, students can honor their culture through advocacy.