Press "Enter" to skip to content

Campus Dia de Los Muertos altars honor beloved dead

The Latinx Student Collective (LSC) continued their annual tradition of celebrating Latinx Heritage Month by setting up Dia de Los Muertos altars in the Chapel and by the steps of Adams Plaza.

On Oct. 30, the LSC dedicated two altars on campus: the one by the Tea Shop was for anyone in the Mills community to place offerings for their loved ones who have passed, and the one in the Chapel was to commemorate the Orlando Pulse shooting victims.

Dia de Los Muertos is a three day festival at the end of October for remembering loved ones who have passed on. In cultures throughout Latin America, it is believed that the spirits of loved ones come to visit their living relatives during this time. The living set up altars, clean grave sites and give offerings, or ofrendas, as part of the celebration. It is believed that giving the spirits ofrendas helps guide them to their loved ones.

Marcelena Menard, the president of LSC, explains that the purpose of having two altars is to show visibility to the holiday and to be respectful to passed loved ones.

“I figured that focusing on the Orlando victims in the inside Chapel would have just been a better space for it than it would have been outside,” Menard said.

Menard asked Katie Funes, ASMC publicity chair, to write the dedication at the altar for the Pulse shooting victims.

“As a queer Latina, [the dedication] is very much from the heart to other queer Latinx, like a community of peace,” Funes said. “I don’t want to say that it speaks to everyone, but I think a lot of us can relate to it.”

Emmely Tot, academic affairs chair and student social justice advocate at The Center, feels that this year is an improvement in terms of being respectful, but was disappointed by how little time the altar was up.

“My first year, there was a big altar placed on the steps. It wasn’t respectful.” Tot said. “I wish it was kept out longer.” She felt that if it was kept out longer, there would have been more opportunity for the community to participate and to place offerings.

The Dia de Los Muertos altar is a long standing tradition for Latinx Heritage Month. The two altars not only showed respect to spirits of loved ones, but also provided visibility of what this holiday is really about: remembering and honoring the dead.