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Speaker examines illegal immigration during Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15, and the University of Houston-Victoria is opening the observance with a special program for students and the public.

Jesus Nebot

Jesus Nebot, an inspirational speaker, filmmaker and entrepreneur, will present Illegal Immigration Reform: Challenges and Solutions at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The presentation is free and open to the public.

“The main reason we wanted to bring in Jesus is because he’ll be able to connect with our student body,” said Michael Wilkinson, director of UHV Student Life & Services. “The substance in his talk will really hit home with our students, especially those who know someone affected by illegal immigration.”

Illegal immigration is consistently considered a hot-button topic, Wilkinson said. Because of that, the UHV Diversity Council chose to bring in a speaker who can look at the topic from a different viewpoint. The Diversity Council is made up of UHV students, faculty and staff who work to promote diversity and awareness at the university through activities and events.

Michael Wilkinson

“The number one reason we celebrate things like Hispanic Heritage Month or other similar observations is to create a diversity-inclusive campus environment,” Wilkinson said. “We want students, faculty, staff and the community to know we embrace all cultures, and we want to create a better overall campus environment for everybody.”

The presentation is a discussion of social justice intended to offer a wider perspective about how to deal with one of the most debated social challenges of society, Nebot said.

“When I speak, I make an attempt to listen to people as well and bring them together to solve our common problems,” Nebot said. “There’s a lot of polarization about illegal immigration based on inaccurate facts, and we don’t need any more divisiveness. What we need is to look at the root causes that are creating this massive influx of people and work collectively to prevent this situation. As an educator, I help people examine these causes and empower them to choose humanitarian solutions.”

In addition to Nebot’s presentation, the Diversity Council also has created several Hispanic Heritage Month events for UHV students, faculty and staff. These include a new event called Tunnel of Discrimination. Students who take part in the tunnel event will enter an interactive experience that showcases the discrimination and prejudice the Hispanic community encounters.

“A lot of times when celebrating cultural awareness months, universities and other groups can get in a rut of doing the same types of programs over and over again,” Wilkinson said. “The Diversity Council has done a great job of putting together some unique programs for students this year.”

UHV also coordinates with Victoria College and the Victoria Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Council to host a Hispanic Heritage Art Contest every year for area middle school students. This year’s contest reception will be Oct. 14 in UHV’s University North Multi-Purpose Room, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. In previous years, contest winners have received scholarships to UHV, free registration to a VC summer camp and goodie bags.

Those with questions about the event should contact Wilkinson at 361-485-4408 or wilkinsonmr@uhv.edu.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.