By Piper Sartison
Elm Staff Writer
On Nov. 18, the Washington College Student Government Association Organizations Committee verified the African Student Union as an official club.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club initially began as a student interest group formed to promote diversity and inclusivity on the College campus. The group also aimed to provide a “home away from home” for current and incoming members that makes them feel welcome and accepted throughout their time at WC, according to senior and ASU president Ama Amponsah.
“Because we were online, we were unable to form an actual club, so [while] we basically had to wait a year and a half…I’m excited to get things started [and to] get the word out there,” Amponsah said. “I hope that [students] start to really understand [the] different ethnicities within the Black life at WC. Just to be represented at this small school means something, [and]…when everybody goes to college, you want that safety net.”
According to senior and Vice President Maya Tann, ASU’s new status as an on-campus club means continuing to not only provide a safe space and resources for those interested, but also raising awareness and encouraging students to join and get involved.
Before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, ASU worked to recruit members and host meetings both online and in person. During this semester, more students became involved in the interest group and, as a result, the ASU was able to convert to an official club. According to Tann, the turnout for ASU has been “pretty good…considering [how] turnout has been kind of low on average for [many] other clubs” due to several students continuing to readjust in a new normal academic and social college experience.
“We’re really trying to plant our feet on solid ground so that when we leave there will be something here for the students,” Tann said. “This semester, we [finally] had an interest meeting and it kind of proved to us that people were still really interested…[and] I definitely want Washington College to recognize the diversity among WC students.”
According to Amponsah, alongside continuing to provide African and Caribbean students on campus “a second home” so they feel safe for the duration of their time on the College campus, ASU also wants to distinguish themselves from similar student-led organizations such as Black Student Union as a means of providing different additional resources for their peers.
According to junior and ASU Historian Shannon Salandy, the club hopes to host a wide variety of events and other opportunities at the College, specifically those “that showcase the culture,” including motivating members to bring different foods, outfits, and other traditions associated with their respective heritages, as well as an on-campus party and pageant, in the 2022 spring semester.
“There is a large African community on this campus, [and] we want to have that safe space [to talk],” Salandy said.