Cultural clubs looking to increase diversity

by Jess Hoogendorn

A workshop to discuss the meaning of diversity and what can be done to connect students of different backgrounds on Rider University’s campus was sponsored by the Black Student Union.

The workshop was held on Thursday, Oct. 25, in the Fireside Lounge in the BLC. All students were asked what they thought diversity meant and if it applied to Rider.

Senior Uchenna Duru, vice president of BSU, and sophomore Taysiah Varnie, social chair of BSU, led the discussion on why many of the cultural clubs on campus do not have diverse memberships. Duru and Varnie encouraged students to participate in different cultural clubs even if the groups did not match a student’s own cultural background.

“I don’t care if it doesn’t have the word African American in front of it or the word black, because we’re suppose to be a school of students that are linked,” said Varnie All of us are here for a reason. We all have one thing in common and that’s to get an education and also meet new people, to better ourselves.”

Duru and Varnie talked about why many students who are not African American do not attend BSU-sponsored events or BSU meetings.
Some students who were not at the BSU workshop explained why they did not join cultural clubs.

“Honestly, I really had no idea that people other than those who the club is for could join it,” said one student.

The group also discussed diversity in terms of music, clothing and religion. The students spoke about college brochures that show pictures of students of different races. They said that those pictures do not always accurately represent the diversity on college
campuses, and that diversity does not necessarily mean acceptance.

“[The workshop] gets people talking about issues,” said Duru. “If you come to an environment like this where it’s an open workshop, I think people kind of get to give you more ideas in general, and more ideas about topics, about issues that happen at Rider and how it’s affecting their stay at Rider.”

At the workshop, the students tried to understand why others might feel uncomfortable participating in different clubs and how this could be remedied. Duru and Varnie urged students to look beyond the stereotypes portrayed in the media and to get to know people who dress or act differently than they do.

“This discussion shows everyone is different in [his or her] own way, not by race, but personality,” said Varnie.

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