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Spanish and Latino Students' Association

A BRIEF HISTORY

The Preamble to the Spanish & Latin Students' Association's Constitution reads:

We, the members of SALSA of the University of Rochester, desire:
To provide a cultural, social, and educational awareness among our fellow members;
To enlighten other students in the University about our culture;
To provide a forum for the members to express their view and desires as a student in the University; Do hereby establish this constitution.

As the preamble indicates, the Latino students felt a void in the University of Rochester community and in its previously existing organizations. And so, S.A.L.S.A. was created.

S.A.L.S.A. was formed in November of 1987 by Edward Chafart. He acted as president of the organization for the 1987-1988 academic year. That first year also marked the inception of our annual Tropicana events.

The following academic year brought in Patria Frias as the new president. That year, Tropicana spanned four days and featured speakers from IBERO American Action League, Alleghany College, the Association for the Puerto Rican Hispanic Culture, Inc., as well as movies, and the traditional dinner and dance. The theme for Tropicana was "Measuring Our Footsteps, Judging the Distance".

The following two years brought in David Ramos and Belkis Suarez-Garcia, respectively.

In 1991-1992, S.A.L.S.A. elected as its president a very unforgettable person, Vagnes Romeo de la Rosa. He was a charismatic leader, who on several memorable occasions was able to save the day, particularly during Tropicana 1992. The theme for that year was "Somos Latinos, Separados por la Distancia pero Unidos por la Misma Idioma".

In the 1992-1993 academic year, Sonia Rivera and Miriam Chafart were elected president and vice-president, respectively. The names should sound familiar. Sonia, is my (not James's but Rosita's) older sister, and Miriam is the younger sister of S.A.L.S.A. founder, Edward Chafart. Later that year, Melissa Martinez was brought in as the Business Manager for S.A.L.S.A. It was during this year that Sonia attempted to return Tropicana to its tradition of being a week long celebration, as it had been shortened to include just the semi-formal dinner and dance. It was also in this year that Tropicana week included dance lessons among its events. The theme that year was "Somos Uno, Somos Mucho."

In 1993-1994 Sonia was re-elected as S.A.L.S.A.'s President. The other officers elected were Mike Mihaly as Vice-President, Melissa Martinez as Business Manager, Linette Aponte as Cultural Manager, Rosa Rivera as Social Manager, Yajaira Yepez as Secretary, and Romeo de la Rosa as Publicity Manager. During this year, Sonia and Mike took on the responsibility of creating a committee dedicated to diversifying the University of Rochester's course curriculum. Their fight on behalf of minority students and academic pluralism was noted by the "Campus Times," the "Rochester Review" and the faculty council. During this year Tropicana coincided with "Minority Visitation Weekend" and was praised by many. The theme was "Bailamos el mismo ritmo, el ritmo de la vida, el ritmo de SALSA."

In 1993-1994, the executive board consisted of Melissa Martinez as President, Rosa Rivera as Vice-President, Sonya Cortez as business manager, Miquel Quezada as Cultural Manager, Jorge Montoya as Social Manager, and Saundra Quinones as Secretary. Tropicana's theme was "Ei poder de voz latina."

Through the years S.A.L.S.A. has evolved into an organization that is actively involved in representing the rights and addressing the concerns of the Latino community. We have tried to make our organization accessible to non-Latino students by extending countless invitations and creating programs that are inclusive and educational. We have strived to represent the needs of S.A.L.S.A. members by creating a library and making it accessible to members, as well as informing members about various scholarships and conferences specific to Latino issues.

I sincerely hope that in the future S.A.L.S.A. will continue to be a well known voice on the U of R campus. I hope that S.A.L.S.A. will preserve and not fall by the wayside as the fate of so many other organizations has been. I believe that S.A.L.S.A. continues to have great potential as long as its members and executive board maintain a high level of commitment.

 

Next page "Afterward"

 

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