The fourth floor of the Student Union was filled with free food, free t-shirts, small prizes and good vibes Thursday for the fifth annual cultural center open house put on by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Student Development Committee.
Anticipating over 500 participants, the Student Development Committee designed the event not only to build relationships between the cultural centers and USG but also to celebrate diversity, Zachary Corolla, the Student Development Committee Chairperson, said.
Students were given a blue paper “passport” that would be signed or stamped when they visited a cultural center. At the cultural centers, they would get food or participate in a quick informational activity to win prizes such as drawstring bags, pens, pairs of sunglasses and raffle tickets.
Two of the informational activities included the African American Cultural Center’s black history jeopardy game and the Rainbow Center’s LGBTQ based kahoot. Both of these are easy, quick and fun ways to inform students about the centers.
After visiting the Native American, Asian American, African American, Women’s, Rainbow and Puerto Rican and Latin American cultural centers, students could then get a free navy blue spring weekend t-shirt.
“The main objective of Student Development is to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, campus culture and university pride on campus,” Corollas’ successor as Student Development Committee Chairperson Sawera Hussan said.
Through strong relationships with the cultural centers, USG can better work to provide resources and safe spaces for students to go, Hussan said.
“As a Muslim woman of color, my main goal on campus is to create a safe environment for all of the marginalized communities and to create a safe space for everything, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status or immigration status,” Hussan said. “Student development provides that platform for me, so that’s why I wanted to join this committee.”
The free prizes give an incentive for students to come out, relax and explore the cultural centers, Hussan said.
Because of the free things and the door-to-door set up of the event, Ellen Yang, an eighth-semester individualized transcultural studies and German double major, said the cultural center open house “felt like Halloween.”
Yang’s statement was answered with a chorus of agreement from others who had gone to the event.
While these free items encouraged students to participate in the open house activities, they weren’t the main reason students decided to come, Audrey Kochiss, a fourth-semester biology major, said.
“We’re interested in actually learning about (the cultural centers),” Kochiss said. “Yes, we like free stuff, but that’s not why we’re here. We want to be more engaged, and I’ve never even stepped into some of these rooms before.”
Sixth-semester political science major Brianna McClure said she enjoyed the open house.
“I wish they had more events like it year-round,” McClure said. “If anything, this event should be held in the beginning of the year in order to get people more aware about the cultural centers rather than the end of it, especially for freshman.”
Yang added that she wished the cultural centers offered ways for students to become involved, similar to an involvement fair.
“I feel like sometimes people don’t realize that cultural centers are so accessible…you can just walk in and make friends,” Maria Shan, a fourth-semester biology and political science double major, said.
Kochiss urged anyone who is hesitant about getting involved or even visiting the cultural centers to do so.
“Just do it,” Kochiss said. “Just walk in and sit down.”
Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.