Are Cultural Clubs Inclusive?
There are people on campus who feel that they cannot attend cultural club meetings because they do not belong to that culture. But these clubs on campus are making an attempt to get rid of that stigma and welcome everyone in with open arms.
“The first time my roommate asked me if I wanted to join her in attending a BSU [Black Student Union] meeting, my original thought was a feeling of hesitancy,” said sophomore Lily Hawx. “Due to being a white woman, I felt apprehensive about attending the meeting - feeling that I would be intruding.”
Marist College currently has 15 cultural clubs on campus within the Social/Service Advisory Council, according to the Student Government Association (SGA) website. These clubs include Black Student Union (BSU), Appreciating Races and Creating Opportunities (ARCO), Hillel Club, Italian American Society, and Asian Alliance.
Cultural clubs, according to the Marist website, contribute to the campus experience by giving students the ability to learn inside and outside of the classroom, aiding students to develop professionally and personally.
The function of a cultural club is to promote awareness and appreciation of a specific group. In doing this, it unites that particular culture while also assisting the community in understanding the misconceptions that the group has to face.
“Through our programs and personal interactions, we collaborate with students, faculty and staff members to provide diverse and balanced intellectual, cultural, and social programs,” read a statement on the Marist website.
At the meetings of the different clubs, the activities will vary. There are often general meetings in which upcoming events will be discussed, but other times, these clubs will discuss issues that are current and are specific to themselves. Groups will use food, music, and dance to create a comfortable space for these topics to be discussed.
“The [BSU] meeting really showed me just how welcoming this club was,” Hawx said. “I was grateful to enter a safe space which not only empowers people of color, but also enables people who are not of color, to discuss progressive conversations about improving upon racial inequalities on this campus, as well as nationwide.”
“I think the intersection of different cultures in one space is important and valuable, but it’s difficult to do [because] the minority clubs on campus should have their own safe space where they feel most comfortable,” said junior Marika Cygert, the president of ARCO. “There should be a balance between integrating everyone while also keeping that safe space alive. Creating inclusion among diverse populations on campus is vital in creating positive change.”
BSU President Hasion Gaston ‘20 stated, “As we move forward, [we would like to] build better relations with the community around us and the people around us. We hope that students are open to the idea of visiting BSU, sitting in our conversations and meetings, and sometimes having uncomfortable conversations to get to better places.”
“[Cultural clubs are] important because even though one may not be [a person] of color, a space such as [BSU] allowed me to gain empathy for a group in which I am not exactly a part of, but one in which I want to be an ally with,” Hawx said. “[BSU] is a club I feel more than grateful to be a part of, and will continue to go to.”