Students had the chance to learn about the many cultural centers and organizations on campus and to win a few prizes at the University of Connecticut’s second Cultural Center Open House on Wednesday.
The event, organized by cultural center leaders and the Undergraduate Student Government Student Development committee, was held on the third and fourth floors of the Student Union, spanning the offices of the African American, Asian American, Native American, Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Centers, the Rainbow Center and the Women’s Center.
Over 300 students attended the event in the first hour alone, said Student Development committee chair Irma Valverde.
“We thought that would be the entire event,” she said. “It’s great that so many students came and are having a great time.”
A similar event was held on the 2015 Spring Weekend. Valverde said that the event drew about 500 people total, and the increased attendance is a good sign for the future of the event. She said that the centers learned a lot from last semester’s open house, and hope to host it each semester.
“We are a school of 16,000 undergraduate students, and I’d love to see the attendance in the thousands,” Valverde said.
Students wandered between the centers, learning about their activities and related organizations on campus. The offices hosted games, awarded prizes and stamped “passports” handed out by USG. Getting a full set of stamps earned the student a free t‐shirt, which Student Development committee member George Wang said was a big draw.
“If you offer free t‐shirts to students, everybody comes,” Wang said.
But t‐shirts and other coffee mugs, water bottles and food offered by the centers, were not the sole reason for attendance. First-semester political science major Jessica Weaver said that she attended to get a feeling of the different cultural groups on campus.
“I already planned on joining the Women’s Center,” Weaver said, “and this gave me all the more reason to.”
The Women’s Center hosted a series of instructional games intended to educate students on women’s history and rights and build intersectionality awareness.
“We tried to make this as informative and fun as possible,” said Women’s Center program coordinator, Chelsea Meagher. “People have been responding really well and had a lot to contribute to the conversation.”
Other cultural centers showcased the attributes of the many student communities they represent.
Kiana Cao, third-semester graphic design and computer science major, of the Asian American Cultural Center, said that the group focused on advocating their motto, “Many Cultures, One Community,” and the support they give and receive from other cultural centers.
“These are our brothers and sisters and we need to support them,” Cao said. They also offered delicacies from the many cultures they represent to guests.
The event was a great way to draw students to the cultural centers that would not normally join them, she said. Many students feel that they are not permitted to join because they are not from the same ethnicity, but Cao said that no club should exclude a member based on race.
Valverde said she sees the relationship between the UConn cultural centers and USG growing.
“It’s great to see the two organizations working together,” she said.
Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.