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Campus and Community

Día de los Muertos Events Celebrate Culture and Community

A student places a candle on an ofrenda.
Written By Gabby Ferreira | Photos by Dylan Head

At the start of November, Cal Poly celebrated Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday in which families and communities honor the memories of lost loved ones. The campus celebration was sponsored by the Latinx/e Center for Academic Success and Achievement (La CASA).

“This year's Día de los Muertos celebration offered a heartfelt experience, uniting the Cal Poly community in a collective gathering of música, joy, and reflection as we cherished the memories of our beloved familia and friends,” said Christina Sholars Ortiz, interim coordinator for La CASA.

The event included a movie screening and presentation on the history and importance of Día de los Muertos in the La CASA center, a student musical performance on the UU stage, and dinner in the UU Plaza. La CASA also hosted workshops on making and decorating the sugar skulls that are traditionally a part of Día de los Muertos celebrations.

"Our Día de los Muertos event was the first time since I arrived on campus that I felt connected to my Latinx culture," said second-year agricultural communications student Daniela Rodriguez-Ruiz.

As the sun began to set, students and campus community members set up their ofrenda, or altar, in the UU Plaza. Students carefully strung papel picado, which represents the wind and the union between life and death, around the ofrenda as participants added photos of their loved ones, pan de muerto, marigolds and other tributes to loved ones who have passed.

Student cultural groups including Latinos in Agriculture, MEXA and the Latinx Business Student Association, as well as the Chicanx/Latinx Faculty and Staff Association participated, decorating the campus ofrenda and providing information to visitors.

Cultural celebrations like this are especially important at Cal Poly, where Latinx-identifying students make up a relatively small but growing portion of the campus population.

Take a look below at a few moments from the celebration.