SUNY Buffalo State is proud home to many multicultural student clubs that strengthen campus diversity by celebrating the various aspects of personal and social identity that make our Bengals who they are.
“I believe that having multicultural organizations that support the variety of diversity and intersections of students’ identities on our campus plays a critical role in creating spaces that allow students to find their community and have this as a part of the fabric of their plan for success,” said Timothy Gordon, vice president for student affairs.
These organizations are by no means new, either. Many have been around for decades, like the African American Students Organization, which was founded in 1967 to elevate the black student body, and Adelante Estudiantes Latinos, a student organization founded in 1973 that celebrates diverse facets of Latin heritage.
What many students may not know, however, is how all-inclusive these organizations are, despite the main areas of representation they promote.
The Buffalo State College Pride Alliance, for example, serves as a safe environment not only for those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community but for allies as well.
P.U.L.S.E. (Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate) is a women’s empowerment group that also serves as a space for positive interaction among participants of all gender identities.
The Caribbean Students Organization’s events and outreach allow others to learn that they can join in on the fun, no matter their heritage, according to CSO secretary Otisha James.
“We don’t only cater to Caribbean people; we’re really inclusive,” she said. “A lot of times when we invite people to our events, they’ll say, ‘But I’m not Caribbean’ and we’ll tell them, ‘That’s totally fine,’” she said, noting their events are open to anyone with an interest.
A signature event of CSO is the annual J’ouvert festival, a Caribbean celebration with roots in Trinidad that marks the beginning of the pre-Lent Carnival festival and also commemorates the emancipation of slavery on the island in the 1800s.
James said the organization also hosts dance competitions and incorporates not only traditional Caribbean dance but Western styles as well, such as hip-hop.
CSO is one of many student organizations that combines global and American cultures to create unique and welcoming experiences. Another such group is the International Students Organization, which serves as a bridge between international and domestic students.
In addition to helping students learn more about different cultures, getting involved on campus is also a great way to benefit from the mandatory student activity fee through United Students Government.
USG funds 40 organizations that allow students to take advantage of the resources they devote to supporting student-driven programs and endeavors. CSO has been USG-funded since 1985, and in celebrating a wide array of cultures, the organization has seen some cultural shifts of its own.
The organization was originally composed of mostly male students from Jamaican and Haitian backgrounds, but the organization is now more gender inclusive and represents additional Caribbean cultures, with members who are Guyanese, Trinidadian, and Bajan.
“We’ve evolved over the years, and that’s something I’m really proud of,” James said.
She added that having organizations like CSO at Buffalo State is important because it allows students to find acceptance in subcultures that reflect their own backgrounds and perspectives.
Don’t be afraid to make new family and friends! Connect with multicultural student orgs through social media and Bengal Connect to learn more about their histories, events, and ways to join.