November 06, 2023

UAB and CRU Offer Space to Honor Loved Ones, Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos

Hundreds of students and MSU community members visited the International Center Nov. 1 to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos. The celebratory event was produced by Culturas De Las Razas Unidas (CRU) and University Activities Board (UAB) and featured special cultural performances, an ofrenda, crafts and more. 

There was something for everyone to enjoy at the culturally enriching event intended to honor deceased loved ones. 

“The event is important to the Latine community because it brings everyone together and it creates unity,” said Nechelle Calderon, marketing junior and a co-chair for the event on behalf of CRU.

Day of the Dead is a holiday on Nov. 1 and 2, though other days through the initial week of November can be included depending on location. Celebrated across Latin America and primarily as developed in Mexico, families welcome back the souls who’ve passed on. As the holiday has gained popularity beyond borders and diasporas, so too has the group of those honored grown in scope from biological family to chosen family and friends to heroes or activists, etc. 

“I loved seeing everyone of all backgrounds and cultures enjoy themselves. I loved that this event brought everyone together, including those who don’t typically celebrate Dia De Los Muertos,” said Calderon. 

Dynasty Webb attended and said she enjoyed the vibrancy of the community at the event. The social work major believes culture comes in layers with stories and experiences. She appreciated the event for exposing her to stories, and better yet, through artistic expression. 

“The meaning behind Dia De Los Muertos drew me to attend. For me, this is a period of healing and honoring loved ones. I was able to do exactly that and gain so much more,” said Webb. 

The MSU University Activities Board outreach and inclusion coordinators are dedicated to developing strong partnerships with a diverse group of student organizations. The UAB and CRU have collaborated to produce the Dia De Los Muertos event for several years now, with it quickly becoming a welcome tradition on campus. 

“By providing event planning expertise and resources to student organizations, it helps us offer a sense of belonging for all Spartans. Events like Dia De Los Muertos celebrate the vibrancy and unique identities our students hold. I think students appreciate when we’re able to honor such a holiday authentically, which allows students to feel honored for their authentic selves,” said Sara Stratilatov, UAB assistant director.

Authenticity, in fact, is precisely something for which Calderon received great feedback. She was happy to hear from the Latine community that the event “felt genuine and like many students celebrate at home.” 

Another authentic aspect of the event was the food, allowing the groups to work with a local Mexican restaurant. Along with food, the event also included photo booths and special edition shirts.

UAB's mission is to provide events for students, by students and create Spartan memories. Webb recognized the value in creating spaces for students to celebrate their loved ones, and perhaps even more importantly, themselves through their culture. 

“Events like Dia De Los Muertos are important, as these may be some of the only spaces where minority students can feel welcomed to embrace their cultures to the fullest,” said Webb.

Calderon felt similarly.

“An event like this at MSU is important because it’s something that can feel like home for many students,” said Calderon. “As someone who has attended every year, it has always been an event that brings me comfort and pride as well.”

Spartan helmet