By Alissa Caruso
Diversity clubs are a great way for students on college campuses to gain a community that they can connect and bond with. Here at Graceland, we have 5 main diversity clubs under IDEA that can provide students with a community that feels like home. The only problem is that many people do not know what all these clubs have to offer to their college experience.
The LatinX Student Alliance is run by co-presidents Jorge Diaz and Thiago Phillip. LatinX meets about once or twice a month and around 40 students currently participate in the club. Speaking with Jorge Diaz, he shared the many resources that students are given when they join LatinX. He explains that coming to the States is a whole different experience with different cultures that can be shocking. This club gives students a feeling of home where they can find people who care for them and share their cultures. Events to look forward to in the future are movie night, bowling, and a possible potluck. It was made clear by Jorge that there is a good amount of budget to be spent on events. Above all things, the message that LatinX wants to send is that they have a welcoming environment where students are free to come and share their culture. LatinX is a club where students can create connections, gain relationships, and find a community that feels like home.
SAGE is run by Clarabelle Cleland-Leighton and they try to meet at least once a month, usually on Thursdays or Fridays. Many do not know that SAGE stands for Sexuality and Gender Equality, therefore SAGE is a resource for advocacy of students’ sexuality and gender inclusivity. They have collaborated with campus ministries for events like bracelet making and with Graceland’s Art Department to make screen print shirt designs in the print shop. SAGE is also hoping to set up a table in the NSU to give out identity pins soon. Clara shared that the biggest asset that SAGE can provide students with is a safe space where support can be found and experience advocating for change can be achieved. SAGE is not just for the LGBTQ community, it is for anyone who wants to advocate for equality. Clara encourages students who are interested to come to a meeting and ask questions. SAGE provides its members with a way to have a place and say in Graceland.
The International Club is managed by Javi Madariaga. The International Club tries to meet once a week and their participation differs from 15 to 70 students depending on the activity. Their activities consist of international cookouts, trips to new places, and sharing their cultures with presentations and games. The club is always planning and participating in events like trunk or treat and the upcoming International Holiday Celebration on November 29th in the NSU at 8:30 pm. The International Club is all about providing support, fun, and opportunities to learn about different cultures. Javi wants students to know that they are here to bring support and company for international students because they know that it can be hard and sometimes we just need to talk about these things. She also explained that members gain personality and character by getting out of their comfort zones, meeting new people, trying new things, and going to new places. Most of all, students can find a community within the International Club where they can meet people who come from the same country, speak the same language, or hold the same interests.
The Black Student Union is led by Davy Bancey and there are about 70 students who are signed up and about 7 to 10 students attend meetings. There has only been one meeting so far, but the plan is to have one meeting every two weeks. Previous and future events include canoeing with smores, video game tournaments, a talent show, a mic night, and a fashion show. An upcoming event is going to be roller skating on November 11th, which is expected to have a high number of participants. The BSU provides students with a safe and comfortable place for students from a black culture and provides students with information and education on these cultures. Davy shares that members benefit from, “Understanding how powerful a community really can be when everyone understands where someone else comes from and what they are built off of. It creates a different way of looking at social interactions and can be very useful in the workforce and just in everyday life.” He also wants students to know that the Black Student Union is not limited to only black students. They encourage students who are not black to join in order to make the campus more inclusive and educated on black culture.
The Polynesian Club is headed by Pene Saili and includes about 75 members who are signed up. Unfortunately, due to difficult scheduling, the club has not yet been able to host a meeting. However, Pene shared that he is planning on meeting at least once before this semester is over. Events that are in the future include a lūʻau for the spring, spam musubi night, and a tattoo night where the meaning of tattoos will be discussed and members will get tattoos drawn on with markers. Meetings will go over Polynesian cultures and talk about the reasoning behind many of their traditions and characteristics. Pene explained that the Polynesian cultures are very family-oriented and the club reflects that. He stressed that everyone is welcome and acceptance is what the club is centered around. This is a community that provides a judge-free zone where students can learn and appreciate the Polynesian cultures.
The diversity clubs under IDEA help advocate for diversity and safe spaces for all students, no matter their nationality, race, culture, sexuality, or gender. Students are encouraged to participate in and celebrate our diversity by attending club events and meetings so we can all feel connected.