The Message of Noche Dorada

by PHILIP KENOL | 11/8/06 6:00am

Noche Dorada, held last weekend, was not at all what I expected. Instead of attending a mere gathering of people enjoying amazing free food and crazy salsa dancing, I was confronted by impassioned speeches from alumni, and an informative address from a professor. Indeed, it is important to note that this night was about addressing the immigration issue -- an issue at the heart of the Latino community, and perhaps even beyond.

The issue of immigration was clearly the main focus of Noche. While controversial, the debate should undoubtedly be addressed. The truth of the matter is that Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, making it an impossibility to continue to alienate them any longer. We cannot, as a country built and sustained by immigration, discriminate and divide this nation along racial lines. This is also true for other aspects of our lives. Much has been said in recent weeks about the topic of diversity at Dartmouth, and I believe that having an open debate about such topics is an important part of finding solutions. I find the fact that Dartmouth has devoted quite a bit of its efforts to promote these very respectable. In fact, I support Dartmouth's obsession with diversity, even if I agree with Jacob Baron '10 that the College should certainly focus on the other qualities our wonderful school possesses.

One Dartmouth alumus's story about a negative experience he had his freshman year was a stark reminder that even in 2006, we still have profound racial problems here at Dartmouth. His anecdote was meant to illustrate why Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity came to Dartmouth in the first place. His story and those of others should shake us out of apathy, and make us realize that each and every one of us bears a huge responsibility to make these issues ancient history. We can start, of course, by looking to our own community, to help shape this campus in a different way.

What struck me most at Noche Dorada was the level of support people showed for the Latino community. The fact that Collis Commonground was packed, and that so many different communities on campus were represented in the audience, gave me hope that together, we can make a lasting impression on Dartmouth. Our actions can serve as an example to others. Whatever side of the debate you are on, the important thing is that events like Noche Dorada exist in order to facilitate the dialogue of all parties in question.

It is impossible for me to mention change without mentioning the election, since the winner obviously has the opportunity, if not the duty, to bring about change in all aspects of our daily lives. Whether it is the Democrats or Republicans that prevail in the midterm elections, it will be both parties' responsibility to assure that the country confronts the steep divide between not only Latinos and the rest of the country, but of all minorities. Personally, I find our Congress's plan to build 700 miles of additional barriers along the Mexican border one of the most ridiculous ideas ever, particularly because people seem to forget: who's going to build it? That's right -- the very people that have been labeled by some as illegal, and the same group that has played a crucial role in our country's economy. I believe that while it might not be a focal point in many of the Congressional races, I very much believe it ought to be. The future of this country depends on how we decide to resolve the border dispute.