BESO, an organization for bilingual education, participated in a virtual conference through the Texas Association for Bilingual Educators last week.

The participants were Dr. Sarah M. Straub, Dr. Brian Uriegas, Jacqueline Hernandez, Miriam Lira, Michelle Martinez, Alexandra Ortiz and Pedro Tovar.

Their presentation covered campus racial climate for Latinx and Hispanic Undergraduates and Professional Educators. Their session was also prerecorded.

For their presentation, they read works of Solórzano, Villalpando and Oseguera.

"We defined campus racial climate as the overall racial environment of the university that could potentially foster outstanding academic outcomes and graduation rates for all students but too often contributes to poor academic performance and dropout rates for students of Color,” Tovar, a junior education major from Marshall. “We wanted to see where our community stood.”

Tovar said they wanted to be engaged in a research project to answer the following questions: What types of racial microaggressions do Latinx/Hispanic undergraduates and professional educators experience? What are the effects of racial microaggressions for Latinx/Hispanic undergraduates and professional educators? How do Latinx/Hispanic undergraduates and professional educators respond to racial microaggressions?

For Martinez, a junior education major from Lufkin, this topic was something she was very passionate about, and was excited to be a part of the presentation.

“I think it is important that we bring awareness as a group. Having racial microaggressions throughout campus is not something anyone wants, but it seems to be [that] people are considering it something normal to do,” Martinez said. “To me, this conference made me realize that more people around me have once felt the same way.”

Martinez said she learned about the number of students from all over who have dropped a class, switched majors or even left campus because they faced microaggression. She became outraged after doing their research. She said through BESO, the organization will continue to fight for representation in their department.

Tovar also had major takeaways from their research. He realized that as a member of the Latinx community, they had to navigate through two different realities.

“As we do this work, we can see how our skill set is improved and how we have overcome structural barriers from the past,” Tovar said. “It was through this study that I was able to have realizations like this one and be able to reflect on them in order for me to grow as a person.”

BESO is currently organizing events to host to get the community involved and shine some light on what their organization is about.

“We are currently in communication with the Nacogdoches Public Library and hoping to get something together,” Straub, an SFA elementary education assistant professor who helped kick start the program, said.

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