Club members of the Latino Student Union. (Photo courtesy of Xiomara Loarte)

by Anthony Krueger

Mount Saint Mary College’s Latino Student Union (LSU) and Campus Ministry joined together in the Hudson Glass Lounge on October 3 to have an open discussion of stereotypes and everything that surrounds them.

“LSU wants to break the boundaries,” said President Xiomara Loarte. “We want to be known for more than making empanadas; we want to break our own stereotype.”

The event was entitled: “I Am More Than What I Eat,” and the afternoon lifted the veil of a commonly overlooked issue. Loarte asked the group what they think a stereotype to be.

“I see it as a single story acting as a brush to paint a picture for everyone else,” said student Asma Neblett.

Father Francis Amodio spoke to the idea that stereotypes are generalizations, usually exaggerated and can be good or bad depending on the context.

Groups who felt they were affected by stereotypes also spoke. Students spoke of religious, Hispanic, race, class, age, sexual orientation, gender, and disabled groups as being some that live their lives against common stereotypes.

Loarte asked the group to think of things that could be generally associated with each of the groups mentioned.

“I felt like the discussion was very open and safe,” said student Shanelle Woods. “Everyone seemed to be aware of common stereotypes and also acknowledged that sometimes there can be truth behind them.”

The next question presented was: Where do the stereotypes come from?

Students gave ideas of how their parents’ experience mixed with ignorance, defensive pride, the media, history, their peers/community, culture, and just being unaware open up the mind to the creation of stereotypes.

AJ LaPoint, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, said, “Sometimes we use stereotypes without even realizing it.”

“We have to try and understand that everyone comes from a different background; no one is exactly the same,” said Amodio.

Amodio asked students if they ever see stereotypes used on campus. “I feel athletes are seen as a wild bunch,” said student Nate Dimmie.

Geraldine Yniguez said campus leaders have this stigma of “being boring.”

Students also spoke of how the campus may not be diverse enough.

The event opened up to be a diversity umbrella. When most think of the stereotypes associated with diversity, they are blind to all the groups that fall under a rather large umbrella.

“I was happy to have my mind widened to what happens around me every day,” said Woods. “I will definitely open my eyes and take everything I learned today to heart and put it into practice.”