October 2023 Heritage Celebrations

To the UConn Community:

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

Heritage Month Celebrations:

Hispanic Heritage Month: (September 15 – October 15): 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 15 – the anniversary of Guatemalan, Honduran, El Salvadorian, Nicaraguan, and Costa Rican independence – through October 15.  It also includes Día de la Raza on October 12, an alternative holiday to Columbus Day that celebrates and honors the peoples, traditions, and cultures destroyed by European colonization. This year’s theme is “Unidos: Inclusion for a Stronger Nation.”

This Hispanic Heritage Month, we invite the entire community to participate in the Puerto Rican / Latin American Cultural Center’s (PRLACC) events:

Pedagogies of Community Wealth: A Guest Lecture with Dr. Tara J. Yosso (October 4, 11am – 12am, Konover Auditorium): Dr. Tara J. Yosso will offer a workshop for UConn faculty demonstrating how she applies a community cultural wealth model pedagogically, to facilitate a deeper understanding of the ways we are connected across time and place in the struggle for justice. Together, we will identify points of praxis for our own work.

Illuminating the Path: A Community Cultural Wealth Approach to Student Success at UConn (October 4, 7pm – 8:30pm, Student Union Theater): Dr. Tara J. Yosso’s keynote will overview her community cultural wealth model, which has been received nationally and internationally as a paradigm shift for the ways we have traditionally thought about schooling structures, practices, and discourse. She will ask us to consider how we take up this model fostering a critical historical perspective of the communities we aim to serve. Dr. Yosso’s timely insights aim to encourage us to draw on the ingenuity and courage of those who have come before us in the struggle for justice and to support our efforts cultivating a community of praxis at UConn.

“Whose Culture Has Capital?”: A Dialogue with Dr. Tara J. Yosso (October 5, 11am – 1pm, PRLACC Program Room): Join PRLACC for a community dialogue with Dr. Yosso.

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!

German American Heritage Month: German American Heritage Month honors the contributions made by German Americans, the largest ancestry group in the United States. The first German immigrants came to the United States on October 6, 1683, when thirteen families settled in Pennsylvania. Americans commemorated the anniversary of these families’ arrival with National German American Day in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, though the holiday fell out of favor following World War I. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October 6th as German American Day in 1983 to celebrate the 300th anniversary and to strengthen the United States’ relationship with Germany.

Italian American Heritage Month: Over five million Italians immigrated to the U.S. between 1820 and 2000, and there are currently over 26 million Americans of Italian descent living in the US. Proclaimed in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush and Congress, this month honors the achievements, contributions, and successes of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the United States. Each October, millions of Americans of Italian descent come together to reflect on their histories, traditions, and values. Celebrations typically include cultural festivals and parades, the largest of which is held in New York City.

LGBTQIA+ History Month: LGBT History Month was inaugurated in 1994 by Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson, in order to celebrate the national and international contributions made by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Wilson chose October because schools are in session and because October already has several LGBTQIA+ traditions, like National Coming Out Day (10/11), International Pronouns Day (10/20), Intersex Awareness Day (10/26), and Asexual Awareness Week (last full week of October).  LGBTQIA+ History Month that provides possibility models, builds community, and emphasizes the continued importance of civil rights.

ODI invites you to join in celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month through several events hosted by the Rainbow Center, including:

The Rainbow Center Symposium (October 13, 9am to 4pm): The Rainbow Center will be hosting the second annual Rainbow Center Symposium, a day of educational presentations related to the LGBTQIA+ community. The symposium is open to all UConn students, staff, faculty, and community members.  This year’s keynote will be author, filmmaker, and social justice advocate Curtis Chin. Register for the symposium here!

See the Rainbow Center’s events page and Instagram for more.

Awareness Month Celebrations:

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM): During DVAM, victim advocates, allied professionals, survivors of abuse, their loved ones, and the surrounding community come together to mourn the lives lost to domestic violence and connect with others working to create change. DVAM began in 1981 as a “Day of Unity” hosted by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was commemorated in October 1987, and Congress officially recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October of 1989.

UConn’s Violence Against Women Prevention Program (VAWPP) is dedicated to addressing and preventing all forms of sexual violence through education, outreach, and advocacy. The VAWPP offers a range of workshops which cover several topics related to the issues of sexual violence. These workshops “emphasize a primary prevention approach that engages all stakeholders in the campus community to examine their role in ending sexual violence by addressing its root causes in oppression.” For more information about the VAWPP (and to see a full list of its workshops and resources), consult the website here.

UConn’s Office of Institutional Equity offers several resources for anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence, including domestic violence confidential advocacy and urgent and medical care. For information about looking for medical or counseling services, academic or work support, assistance with transportation or financial aid, or to learn more about investigations, consult the Title IX office’s website for additional information.

For student-led support, In-Power is a student-led support group dedicated to building a gender-inclusive community that welcomes victim-survivors of sexual assault, stalking, and/or intimate partner violence at any point in their healing process. Through a focus on empowerment, autonomy, and resilience, the group aims to help participants claim agency over their own stories and experiences, as well as the direction of the group. The group works through a variety of discussion topics and self-care methods. If you are interested in joining the group, please reach out to facilitators at in-power@uconn.edu.

National ADHD Awareness Month: October is National ADHD Awareness Month. ADHD Awareness Month is dedicated to educating the public about ADHD, promoting research about ADHD, and helping to develop communities of support and professional development for those with ADHD. This October, National ADHD Awareness Month is partnering with organizations around the world with the shared global goal of dissemination of reliable information about ADHD and its treatments. The 2023 ADHD Awareness Month theme in the United States is “Moving Forward with ADHD.”

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM): The event began in 1985 as a weeklong awareness campaign by the American Cancer Society, in collaboration with Imperial Chemical Industries. It later became a monthlong event. The goal of NBCAM is to promote screening and prevention of the disease that affects one in eight women in the U.S. every year and 2.3 million women worldwide. For information about breast cancer care services, visit the Carole and Ray NEAG Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month: In 1945, Congress designated the first week of October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week,” in part, to help disabled WWII veterans find employment. Since then, the concept of disability has shifted. Congress dropped the word “physically” in the 1970s to provide a more inclusive view. In 1973, Congress passed Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which protects the rights of persons with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Section 504 protects the rights not only of individuals with visible disabilities but also those whose disabilities might not be apparent.

Over the next few decades, activists and educators helped shift national understanding of ability, leading to more inclusive views about type of disability, greater recognition of the intersections between identity and ability, and stronger legislation to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. In 1990, the United States passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which made it illegal to discriminate along the basis of identity and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else in the United States. This heritage month celebrates these accomplishments while also raising awareness of barriers that still need to be addressed. Find more about the month at the Department of Labor’s website.

UConn has a strong commitment to expanding inclusion through the Center for Students with Disabilities. UConn also promotes awareness through academic programs like the Certificate of Interdisciplinary Disability Studies in Public Health and the Human and Developmental Sciences Families and Disabilities concentration, as well as academic centers like the Center for Excellence in the Study of Developmental Disabilities and the Collaborative on Postsecondary Education and Disability, and through courses on Disability Studies at the Storrs and Waterbury campuses.

National Transfer Student Week: The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) declares the third week of each October as National Transfer Student Week (NTSW). NISTS organizes National Transfer Student Week to celebrate transfer students, educate others about the diverse needs of the transfer population, and recognize the professionals who support them on their journeys. This year’s National Transfer Student Week theme, “Full Steam Ahead!,” focuses on ways to clear the path to transfer success and mitigate many of the common barriers and obstacles that transfer students can face.

Cultural Holidays:

International Day of Older Persons (October 1):  The United Nations sets aside October 1st to draw attention to the challenges of population aging in the twenty-first century and to promote societal development for people of all ages. Seventy-five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, a monumental document in the history of human rights. Written by representatives from around the world with different legal, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, it is the first document articulating the fundamental human rights that are meant to be universally protected. In recognition of this milestone and looking to a future that delivers on the promise to ensure that all persons, including all older persons, fully enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, in 2023, The United Nations International Day of Older Persons will focus on the theme of “Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations.” The event will put a spotlight on the specificity of older persons around the world, for the enjoyment of their rights and in addressing violations, and how the strengthening of solidarity through equity and reciprocity between generations offers sustainable solutions to deliver on the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals.

UConn supports senior citizens through educational initiatives, including Senior Citizen Audits for learners over 62, UConn Extension’s Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR) for retirees and other adults from all walks of life, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), based at the UConn Waterbury campus, part of a national network where adults over 50 can expand their minds and connect with other learners.

German American Heritage Day (October 6): This day honors the contributions German Americans have made to the country. It is recognized on this day to commemorate the October 6, 1683, arrival of the first German immigrants to the United States.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day (October 9): Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates the cultures, histories, and contributions of Native and Indigenous peoples in the United States and across the world. It honors America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal nations that continue to thrive here today, recognizing their contributions and acknowledging their resilience and strength in the face of a centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror wrought upon Native and Indigenous communities in the United States and beyond. Currently, 14 states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and in 2021, President Biden proclaimed it a national holiday. The State of Connecticut does not currently mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day, though several towns and communities within Connecticut, including Mansfield, do.

UConn recognizes Native and Indigenous resilience and strength every day of the year. We acknowledge that our university sits on lands taken through the long campaigns of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror through our Land Acknowledgement Statement. We encourage reading this statement before any event held on UConn’s spaces. We also honor the cultures, histories, and legacies of Native and Indigenous peoples every day, primarily through the Native American Cultural Programs (NACP), which provides programming, initiatives, resources, and trainings for the Native and Indigenous Peoples who make a home at UConn. NACP offers several events to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day during Indigenous Peoples’ Week, including:

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebrations (October 9, ODI Commons): NACP will be having various events all day starting at 11 a.m. to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and kick Indigenous Peoples’ Week off! Come Paint Your Culture (11am – 1pm), enjoy lunch with NACP (2pm – 3pm), and learn how to bead in a workshop taught by a local expert (3pm – 6pm)!

Film Screening of Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native Mascoting (October 10, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, ODI Commons): NACP will be hosting a film screening of Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native Mascoting presented by the Ciesla Foundation. The film explores the genesis of the exploitation of Native American culture in competitive sports, including the use of names and logos featuring Indians that have been adopted by teams and franchises with no apparent connection to the tribes and peoples whose culture they are appropriating.

The Blanket Exercise (October 11, ODI Commons, 4pm – 6pm): The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an experiential learning tool for teaching various histories of the US through Native lenses. Everyone who attends is a participant and the goal is to experience histories of colonization and the creation of the United States through various Native perspectives. The Blanket Exercise will be held in the ODI Commons (SU 103), hosted by Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) and endawnis Spears (Diné/Ojibwe/Chickasaw/Choctaw).

Minoritized Languages of the North Atlantic Workshop (October 12, 6pm – 7:30pm, ODI Commons).

Columbus Day (October 9): Columbus Day was made a federal holiday in the United States in 1968, set to begin in 1971. In 1934, Congress passed a statute requesting an annual proclamation from the President. According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress believed that “by commemorating Columbus’s voyage…the nation would be honoring the courage and determination which enabled generations of immigrants from many nations to find freedom and opportunity in America.” It has especially become a point of honoring Italian American heritage in the United States. While President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made such a proclamation that year, Columbus Day was not made a federal holiday until President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation in 1968.

Religious Holidays: 

Sukkot (September 29 – October 6), which is Hebrew for “Huts,” comes 5 days after Yom Kippur. It is one of Judaism’s three pilgrimage festivals. This seven-day celebration recalls the days when Israelites lived in huts while wandering for forty years in the desert wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt.

Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly) (October 6 – October 8) and Simchat Torah (“Rejoicing in Torah”) (October 7 – October 8) are two holidays that come at the conclusion of Sukkot – in Israel they are combined into one holiday; in the rest of the world, they are celebrated over two consecutive days. These two holidays anticipate the coming year with prayer and engaging with the Torah. Simchat Torah celebrates finishing the yearly cycle of reading the whole Torah and immediately begin again at the beginning.

UConn Hillel will hold a Sukkot Event on Thursday, October 5. For further information, please visit Hillel’s website.

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 www.diversity.uconn.edu/events. 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 diversity@uconn.edu.

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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, Chief Diversity Officer, UConn Health