Student groups plan cultural events, advocacy

Ryan Collins

In the fifth week of the semester, campus organizations serving ethnic minority students across Kent State are discussing their spring 2011 plans and goals.

The leaders of student groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Focus on the Future, Advocates of Culture and Knowledge and the Spanish and Latino Student Association were in agreement of their central goal to support students and bring them together. The Student Multicultural Center also has programs planned to help students.

Kent State’s chapter of the NAACP will represent its constituents at university committees this semester, said Robin Wright, president of the chapter and senior Pan-African Studies major.

“We’re not going to do as (many events) because we are focusing more on the advocacy end rather than the programming end this semester,” she said.

The NAACP will still have around six programs, she said. An informational mass meeting and a poetry event are among February’s events.

“We’re working with organizations (particularly the Center of Pan-African Culture) to focus on two specific initiatives: increasing political awareness of students here at Kent State, and specifically get minority students more involved in leadership positions,” she said.

The Student Multicultural Center also has its own initiative to improve academic skills with its programs lined up for this semester. A panel on GPA improvement and a session on dealing with parents and summer jobs are planned.

“(We want to show the) impact of freshman year on GPA, how to protect it, how to bounce back from a bad first semester,” said Bryan Gadson, a graduate appointee with the center. “(And we also want to) intertwine with the social aspects of other organizations.”

Also focusing on unification, Focus on the Future wants to help students academically and bring them together, said Christopher Hicks, the group’s president. Focus on the Future is planning events that have no cultural barriers, he said, so everyone can be exposed to who they are on campus with.

“There are invisible barriers that I see separate us all,” Hicks said. “I actually want to tear those down.”

Jonathan Jones, president of Advocates of Culture and Knowledge, said the cross-cultural and all-inclusive group wants to bring more focus to current events. One of the group’s goals is also to establish relationships with all campus organizations.

“We have created unity ties with people who were not unified before,” Jones said.

SALSA is promoting its support system to get a greater number of Hispanic students applying to Kent, SALSA president Kaley Alvarado said.

“It’s nice to have somewhere to go if you need some help,” she said.

The student group leaders stressed the inclusiveness as a goal for their organizations.

“Our ultimate goal is just empowering minorities,” Wright said. “Not specifically African-Americans, but all minorities politically, economically, educationally and socially.”

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