Seeking to unite the campus as a whole through understanding and inquiry of various cultures, traditions and religions, Students Promoting Acceptance and Necessary Change (SPANC), was recently formed on campus with active official student organization status.
Spearheaded by president Daidre Azueta, SPANC is a group without requisites for membership.
“Basically one of our goals is to increase the amount of interaction of students of diverse backgrounds,” Azueta said. “It’s human nature to feel comfortable with those [that one has]many commonalities with. We want to raise awareness of stereotypes and generalizations, we want everyone to become aware of the biases they might have.”
Going beyond the realm of simply uniting individual students, SPANC wishes to bring together entire campus organizations in adhering to their desire to expand their membership and knowledge of diverse groups.
“We’d like to do an exchange program between different student organizations,” Azeuta said. “We want more interactions between students who wouldn’t ordinarily have that interaction.”
Another promising activity involves visiting the Veteran’s Hospital to learn directly from those who’ve experienced intolerance firsthand, a unique way to delve into the past and uncover contemporary, deep-seeded biases.
“We’d like to go to the VA hospital, collecting oral histories from people who’ve experienced hatred between different groups, and how they’ve experienced culture shock,” Azeuta said.
Other projects to nurture and diffuse experiences include in-school discussions addressing stereotypes with local children, administration of surveys and flyers to raise awareness, poetry slams and performances to share novelties about diverse groups and the creation of an on-campus peace garden and mural.
Meetings, which are projected to be held bi- or tri-monthly, will involve workshops and activities exploring culturally pertinent issues, like discussing ethnic ambiguity and the origins of classifications and also forums that invite leaders of other student organizations to encourage integration as an entire student body.
“Most people agreed that a group like this was needed on campus because it’s not that integrated,” Azueta said. “I think people will join because they’re curious to see what SPANC is about. Everyone wants to be tolerant of others.”
Deltavier Frye, junior, joined SPANC to support a cause she feels passionate about.
“For me, this cause is appreciating and respecting other groups as well as bringing different people together to discuss important issues,” she said.
SPANC’s staff, already a microcosm for the diversity they wish to emulate, consists of Azueta, a native Belizean, Jamaican vice president Gail-Marie Stewart and treasurer Sunil Matthew, of Indian descent.
“Everyone’s welcome,” Azueta said. “The more people, the more diversity, the better.”
Teressa Dalpe can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.