Associate professor of psychology Leticia Arellano-Morales presented her lecture titled “Stress and Quality of Life Among Latino Day Laborers” Monday in the President’s Dining Room.
Arellano-Morales’ research focused on the issues and challenges undocumented Latino workers face on a daily basis.
“There’s nothing like working with a disenfranchised community to understand the services they need,” Arellano-Morales said.
Arellano-Morales decided to focus on Latino day laborers because of the recent passage of immigration laws.
“This is a forgotten group,” she said.
Arellano-Morales started the presentation with emphasizing the widespread Hispanic population in the United States.
Examining Latino day laborers is important because they are a mobile group that is often exploited, Arellano-Morales said.
They work in unsafe conditions, lack employment benefits and face constant deportation threats.
Latino day laborers struggle with personal issues such as social isolation from being away from their families for periods of time, depression, anxiety and some even struggle with alcoholism.
Latino day laborers also face sexual harassment in the workplace, which is an issue that is rarely discussed.
Through her research, she found that 38 percent of workers are propositioned for sex, and 9 percent of workers actually engaged in sex for economic purposes.
A significant part of the lecture was aimed at the concept of masculinity and how it affects the male day laborers.
“LDL’s are bombarded with notions of what it is to be a ‘man’,” Arellano-Morales said.
Male Latino day laborers have embraced the belief that men are aggressive, dominant and possess sexual prowess.
They take this definition and use it as an excuse to subject themselves to the stresses of manual labor.
“They like to assert themselves as tough, hardworking men,” Arellano-Morales said.
To collect data, Arellano-Morales conducted two rounds of surveying to a total of 167 Latino day laborers, aged 18 to 65.
Arellano-Morales said the procedure was challenging, since many of the participants were skeptical of it.
Arellano-Morales said that it is important to operate with strengths-based perspectives to discuss and address certain issues that are faced by Latino day laborers.
She also emphasized that knowledge of policies is important so that people are able to communicate with their government about these types of issues.
“This lecture is important because we have a large Hispanic population and our historic values are rooted in concern for social justice,” said Jonathan Reed, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Today’s lecture was a great example of the scholar-teacher model where our teachers are experts in their area of expertise, and that’s what makes them good teachers,” he said.
“I really am. I think it’s so critical that we are fair to all people,” professor of education Peggy Redman said.
Kristina Bugante can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.