September 2023 Heritage Celebrations

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office would like to remind you of several celebrations, commemorations, and moments of raising awareness for members of our community during the month of September:

Heritage Month Celebrations:

Hispanic Heritage Month: (September 15th – October 15th): Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the many diverse cultures and histories within Hispanic and Latinx communities, as well as members of those culture’s achievements and contributions    to the United States.  First recognized as Hispanic Heritage Week by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, it was expanded to a full month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.   This month is observed from September 15th – the anniversary of Guatemalan, Honduran, El Salvadorian, Nicaraguan, and Costa Rican independence – through October 15th.  It also includes Día de la Raza on October 12th, an alternative holiday to Columbus Day that celebrates and honors the peoples, traditions, and cultures destroyed by European colonization.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, we invite the entire community to participate in the Puerto Rican / Latin American Cultural Center’s (PRLACC) events, which will be announced in the very near future. Please follow the PRLACC calendar for a full list of events! We look forward to seeing you there.

Also be sure to check out events held by La Comunidad Intelectual, a learning community that works to create a welcoming space on campus for students who identify as Latina/o/x and/or who are interested in issues that affect the Latin American and Caribbean communities. Check out their Instagram page for upcoming events!

ODI and the Provost’s Office also believe that UConn is stronger for the inclusion of Hispanic and Latine peoples, cultures, and traditions. We are also proud that our UConn Stamford campus is an accredited Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).  The University has resources to help these communities navigate the unique challenges in higher education settings, including PRLACC, the Association of Latinx/a/o Faculty and Staff (ALFAS), and the Center for Career Development. UConn is also proud of El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, which supports the developing of hemispheric and Latine-centered perspectives and of La Comunidad Intelectual, a learning community that recognizes and critically examines Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures, customs, and traditions at UConn and beyond.

National Recovery Month: September is National Recovery Month, a time set aside to assist the road to recovery for the more than 20 million Americans who are experiencing one or more substance use disorders. This month not only educates Americans about the substance use treatments and mental health services that can help those with substance use disorders live a healthier and more rewarding life, but also celebrates the gains made by those already in recovery – gains that often go unrecognized in wider conversations.

The goal of this month is to reinforce the message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, that treatment is effective, and that people can and do recover. This month reminds us that no one is alone in the journey through recovery. While every journey is different, we are all in this together. At UConn, we endeavor to ensure that substance use is not a barrier to academic, personal, or professional success. Please visit Student Health and Wellness’s (SHaW) Alcohol and Substance Use Support and UConn’s Recovery Support Services page for resources, trainings, and opportunities for support on your journey.

Suicide Prevention Month and Week: September is Suicide Prevention Month. Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) host World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 to focus attention on the problem of suicide worldwide. The week leading up to this day is Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is a particular concern in the United States – it is the second leading cause of death for 10- to 34-year-olds. This month serves as a moment for creating awareness about suicide, to inspire people to learn how to help save lives in their community, and to learn to have authentic and caring conversations about suicide and mental health.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health or having suicidal thoughts, please know that you are not alone. The University has resources to help through times of crisis. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion has also gathered a partial list of mental health resources for students, staff, and faculty at all five UConn campuses, as well as for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and veteran communities.  There is also help available whenever you need it and wherever you may be. UConn has several resources for getting immediate support.  As of summer 2022, the federal government has also instituted a new national suicide prevention hotline, 988, that can be called for immediate support 24/7.

Employees seeking mental health care at UCHC can contact the Mood and Anxiety Clinic, provided by the UConn Health Department of Psychiatry. The Clinic is dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to individuals struggling with mood and anxiety symptoms.

For medical, dental and graduate students at UConn Health, the Student Behavioral Health Service has a range of useful resources.

Suicide prevention should not be limited to a single day, week, or month, but should receive attention every day. For those who are struggling, please remember that you matter and that there are resources dedicated to helping you in your time of need.

Cultural and Federal Holidays:

Chuseok (September 29): Chuseok is a Korean holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, traditionally to commemorate the fall harvest and to honor one’s ancestors. The Harvest Moon Festival, as it is also known, is one of the most popular holidays in Korea, and many travel home to visit family and share a celebratory meal together. The day begins with a ceremony in which food and wine are offered to ancestors. This is followed by a meal that typically consists of fish and newly harvested vegetables and grains. The food most associated with the holiday is songpyon, a crescent-shaped rice cake that is cooked on a bed of pine needles. Later in the day celebrants visit the graves of relatives, where more ceremonies are performed. Chuseok is also marked by gift giving and athletic events, including tug-of-war competitions, archery contests, and sirrum (Korean wrestling) matches. Other activities include dancing and music playing, and on Chuseok many Koreans wear traditional clothing (hanbok).

Labor Day (September 4th): This federal holiday, always held on the first Monday of September, celebrates the American labor movement and pays tribute to American workers. While this day is set aside to celebrate improvements made to working conditions in the United States, September also has two other labor-related holidays that remind us of the continued need to address race- and gender-based disparities in pay:

International Equal Pay Day (September 18th): This day was first acknowledged in 2019 to illuminate persistent pay discrimination and wage gaps that disproportionately affect women and people of color across all occupations. Unequal pay leads to lower wealth accumulation and has generational impacts.

National Black Women’s Equal Pay Day (September 21st): First celebrated by The National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996, this day highlights the impacts of institutional racism in the workplace, especially regarding pay.  On average, Black women make 62 cents for every dollar paid to a white man.  This day also recognizes that inequalities created by pay disparity have generational consequences, a problem that has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

ODI believes that working to address the systems that create inequity for any group will help address the systems that create inequity for every group.  UConn provides professional development resources for these and other identity-based groups who face unique challenges on entering the workforce.  See more at the Center for Career Development.

Mid-Autumn Festival (September 29): The  Mid-Autumn Festival  falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, and it’s the second most important traditional festival in China after the spring festival. It is also celebrated by many other Asian countries. In China, the  Mid-Autumn Festival  is a celebration of the harvest. Ceremonies are held both to give thanks for the harvest and to encourage the harvest-giving light to return again in the coming year. The Mid-Autumn Festival has a history of over 3000 years. In the process of cultural developments, the festival has been infused with more meanings, including families gathering and praying for good health and happiness. In modern times, people mainly celebrate the mid-autumn festival as a time for family reunions. It is said the moon on this day is the brightest and roundest, which has come to mean family reunion. Some traditional celebrations include enjoying a dinner with family, eating mooncakes, and appreciating the moon.

National Trail of Tears Remembrance Day (September 16th):  On this day, we acknowledge the forced displacement of Native and Indigenous peoples from their lands. September 16th is the National Day of Commemoration for the Trail of Tears, when citizens of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek, and Chickasaw Nations and other Eastern tribal nations were violently removed from their homelands by the United States government after the passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act. Relocated peoples suffered from continual violence, disease, and starvation during and after displacement.

We also recognize that UConn occupies lands taken from Native and Indigenous peoples accounted for in the Land Acknowledgement statement, and we encourage reading this statement out loud before any event held on university property, incorporating it in UConn websites, and including it in course syllabi. Furthermore, we note that the University continues to profit off of sale of other land taken by violent dispossession under the auspices of the 1862 Morrill Act. To see UConn’s participation in this legacy, visit the Land Grab CT website, a resource put together by UConn’s Greenhouse Studios in conjunction with the Native American Cultural Programs (NACP), the Native American and Indigenous Students Association (NAISA), and the Dodd Impact Initiative at the Human Rights Institute.

Patriot Day (September 11th):  This day honors those who perished in or as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including first responders and military service members.  Flags are flown at half-staff on this day, and Americans are encouraged to honor the victims through acts of service.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind military service members that you are important to UConn, which recognizes the unique challenges you face in higher education. The Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs (VAMP) provides student support services specifically for veterans, active service members, and their families attending UConn. Their services include certifying VA educational benefits, assisting students in their transition to life at UConn, and providing supplemental programs and activities to student veterans. VAMP works closely with the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), which has a wealth of resources for veterans regardless of ability status. VAMP also works closely with state-based Veterans Centers that provide fully confidential mental and behavioral health assistance.

Religious Holidays:

Krishna Janmashtami (September 6th – September 7th): Also known as Gokulashtami, this two-day festival marks the birth of Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu deities.  Hindus celebrate Janmashtami by fasting, singing devotional songs, praying together, preparing special foods, holding night vigils, and visiting temples. Major Krishna temples organize a recitation of “Bhagavata Purana” and “Bhagavad Gita” or drama events “Rasa Lila” and “Krishna Lila.”

Rosh Hashanah: (Sundown September 15th – Sundown September 17th): Rosh Hashanah, which is Hebrew for “first of the year,” is one of the holiest days in Judaism, celebrating the New Year, the birthday of the Universe, and the creation of Adam and Eve.  It is part of the High Holidays with Yom Kippur, which comes 10 days later (September 24th – September 25th).  Rosh Hashanah is a time of rejoicing and introspection; it offers an occasion to celebrate the completion of another year while also providing an opportunity to take stock of one’s life and contemplate the upcoming year. Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah is observed with sounding a ram’s horn on both days (unless either day falls on Shabbat), and with sweet foods like challah bread with raisins or apples dipped in honey to symbolize wishes for a sweet new year.

Sukkot (Sundown September 29 – Sundown October 6): Sukkot is a Jewish festival of thanksgiving and harvest commemorating the dwelling of the ancient Israelites in booths in the wilderness.

UConn Hillel will hold services and meals for this year’s High Holiday celebrations, including Erev Rosh Hashanah services and dinner on Sunday, September 15th at 6:30 PM; Tashlich and Lunch on Monday, September 17th at 2 PM; and Erev Yom Kippur services at 5:00 PM. These events are free and open to the entire UConn community. The full calendar of services and meals is on UConn Hillel’s homepage.

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) (September 24th – September 25th ): Yom Kippur is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish faith.  It marks the culmination of the Ten Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. According to tradition, it is on Yom Kippur that God decides each person’s fate, so Jews are encouraged to make amends and ask forgiveness for sins committed during the past year. The holiday is observed with a 25-hour fast and a special religious service. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are known as Judaism’s “High Holy Days.”

We welcome the celebration of each of these holidays on our campuses and encourage support for those requiring accommodations. You can find information and guidance about academic accommodations for religious observations on the Provost Office’s webpage.

To see more information about resources and events happening this month and throughout the semester, please visit our events page at ODI writes these letters in collaboration with our partners across the UConn system. If we inadvertently omitted a cultural or religious holiday, please let us know by emailing us at

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Frank, Anne, and Jeff

Frank Tuitt
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer

Anne D’Alleva
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Jeffrey F. Hines, MD
Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, UConn Health