Calle Murray returns to Western’s campus

Steven Barnum , News editor

The Calle Murray event celebrated its fourth year of bringing cultural awareness to Western Illinois University on Saturday.

For four years, the event has been providing food, dance and culture to the campus and community in the multicultural center. Sodexo from Western’s Union and Guadalajara from nearby Monmouth, Ill. provided food for Saturday’s event. Karneil Smith, one of the hosts of the event, said that it’s a positivecultural experience.

“I feel like it really speaks on the diversity that we have here on campus,” Smith said. “We’re celebrating world culture to bring the whole community together as one and that’s what it’s all about.”

Smith has been helping with the event since its inception and he views it as a chance to enjoy himself, especially when it comes to the dancing.

“It’s always fun to be on the dance floor,” Smith said. “Dancing is another form of communication and to be able to go out there and do these cultural dances is something I won’t forget. I love being part of events like this and being surrounded by all of these supportive people.”

Organizers moved the event indoors to avoid dealing with inclement weather, but that didn’t discourage anyone from attending, according to Smith.

“We still found a way to conquer through it and put on a great event for the community. It’s all about giving back to the community and celebrating culture and diversity and showing what the Western campus can offer. The biggest thing that we can do to help this campus is support these events and supportcultural diversity.”

With the food and music from Crooked Cactus and DJ Reckless, the event presents an opportunity for the public to share the cultural experience, according to graduate studentJenissa Nino.

“It’s definitely important that our Latino students and Latino population feel like they have a place here in the community,” Nino said. “It’s also important for others because it’s a learning opportunity and it’s the biggest Latino cultural event that Macomb has.”

Nino agreed that the weather didn’t prevent a larger turnout because of what the public knows the event has to offer.

“It’s a beautiful culture,” Nino said. “This is like us gifting a piece of our culture to our community.”

This is the first year that Nino took a larger role in helping to organize the event. For the weeks leading up Calle Murray, she met with a planning committee every week. She publicized the event through social media to make sure as many members of the public were aware of its existence. She also advertised for volunteers, with which she said the participation was generous.

“We had a lot of help from various organizations and departments so we’re very blessed that it was a community effort and an opportunity for everyone to come together,” Nino said.

Sponsors for the event were organizations like the Women’s Center, the Student Government Association, Amplify, the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center and several Greek organizations on Western’s campus. The executive director of Casa Latino, Rocio Ayard Ochoa, is instrumental in highlighting the necessary cultural exposure in the community, according to MayorMike Inman.

“She is doing a great job and we’re lucky to have her here in the community,”Inman said.

Inman has made appearances at each of the annual Calle Murray events and he told the Western Courier that it’s a rare occasion that not every community gets to participate in.

“It’s been my privilege to be here and I’m happy to be a part of an event that is so important in this community,” Inman said. “We hope that Calle Murray would be one more feather in the university’s and community’s hat as to why students should come to Western.”

Inman referenced how the Hispanic population is the fastest growing demographic in the state of Illinois and that he hopes that the community continues to offer an inviting atmosphere for everyone.

“On behalf of the city of Macomb, we are so proud to be the home of Western Illinois University and this is one of the reasons,” Inman said to the crowd from the main stage. “The diversity that this university brings to our community makes us the community that we are – and we wouldn’t have this cultural recognition without the university.”