By Erica Quinones
The Office of Intercultural Affairs’s new student group initiative, the Intercultural Affairs Collective, held its inaugural meeting on Sept. 24.
The Intercultural Affairs Collective is a group of student representatives from various cultural affinity groups, Student Government Association, and the Office of Intercultural Affairs. These students are encouraged to network and collaborate to create a community amongst the cultural affinity groups, increase accessibility to cultural events, and consolidate resources, according to sophomore and Intercultural Affairs Student Representative Queen Cornish.
Cornish, who joined the Intercultural Affairs team last year, said the Collective arose from a conversation about creating a place where cultural affinity groups could come together and discuss their work.
This idea is also a way to make cultural events more accessible. The difficulty of getting involved with intercultural initiatives was made clear to Cornish during her freshman year. She said that while she wanted to get involved with intercultural initiatives, “knowing how to get involved was daunting.”
She was often unsure of where to go in order to get involved, or she learned about events too late to reschedule her previous commitments. With the Collective, cultural affinity groups can more easily communicate what events they will be hosting and collaborate on events with similar themes.
According to senior and SGA Secretary of Diversity Jada Aristilde, cultural affinity groups would often hold many similar events with low turnout. The Collective gives them “an avenue to collaborate and be aware of their own events,” using club resources efficiently.
The Collective’s first project, an event calendar, works towards increasing accessibility.
According to Cornish, the calendar will feature the cultural affinity groups’ events. The calendar will then be shared with the campus community through email, CampusGroups, and on the Intercultural Affairs website.
Aristilde said that she hopes to see all events dealing with diversity, equity, and inclusion on the calendar, not just those hosted by Collective members.
For Cornish, the calendar is not just a resource that can increase awareness of DEI initiatives on campus, but if her freshman-self had a similar resource, it would have made “it easier to branch out and not just go where I’m most comfortable.”
The multicultural nature of the Collective and their collaborative events “emphasizes intersections of identity,” Cornish said. “Collaboration makes a tangible connection. It is not just a web of identities; collaboration establishes a commonality that weaves into an intersectional framework.”
Intersectional events are a major aspect of the Collective for sophomore and German Club Student Representative Annie Elliot, who described the Collective as “a way for culture clubs to come together, unite, and find commonality.”
Elliot said that for German Club, the Collective can help them find commonalities between cultures and languages.
German Club meetings encourage students to speak German, which can be awkward for less-advanced students. However, by collaborating with other language-based clubs, students can connect over their shared learning journeys. When students identify similar struggles across languages, it can create the “sense that you’re not alone,” according to Elliot.
The Collective’s intersections can also appear in the meetings themselves, according to Aristilde.
She said the Collective can serve as a place for group representatives to decompress and discuss pressing issues, brainstorm DEI initiatives, and find a safe, understanding space.
The student-centric nature of the Collective brings together a diverse group of students who can express their perspectives, giving Aristilde a better grasp on the campus community as a whole.
“[There are] obviously many different intersectionalities — my perspective is different from EROS [Encouraging Respect of Sexuality] or ASU [the African Student Union]…I represent part of the population, but it is impossible for me to accurately represent other perspectives without speaking to people of those identities,” Aristilde said.
In forming the Collective, Intercultural Affairs called for student representatives from ASU; the Black Student Union; Chinese Cultural Club; Cleopatra Sisters; Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring; EROS; French Culture Club; German Club; Global Education Office; Hillel; The Muslim Student Association; Student Athletic Advisory Committee; Supporting All Gender Experience; SGA; Spanish Club; Peer Information Consultants; and Peer Mentors.
Currently, the Collective has representation from Intercultural Affairs, ASU, EROS, Global Education Office, Hallel, SGA, Spanish Club, German Club, and French Culture Club, according to Cornish.
Cornish said the Collective is just in its starting phase, thus they expect more organizations to join in the near future, growing and becoming more solidified over the semester.