During a recent bout of homework brain drain – which usually consists of randomly browsing through Facebook and MySpace – I came across an interesting group, “Minorities are Doing Big Things at the U of R…Holla!”

My initial reaction was one of instant agreement, which was quickly discouraged by the skepticism that years of literature study have instilled in me. True, minorities are involved in several important campus groups and organizations, but are they really doing “big things” at UR? If so, how effective are their methods? My focus is mainly on the strategies of those clubs that promote cultural and social awareness.

These clubs and their members are usually responsible for the organization of many important activities and events on campus. ADITI, Black Students’ Union, Chinese Students Association, Korean American Students Association, Spanish and Latino Students’ Association and other similar groups plan some great cultural education events every year that open the campus community’s eyes to issues that are not regularly considered.

However, it seems, at times, that the cultural awareness organizations, with a great potential for making serious changes on campus life, are nothing more than a chance for students to socialize and meet new friends.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy meeting new people and socializing as much as the next guy. Socializing and networking go hand-in-hand and are essential skills that I believe are important for practice in our professional careers. This even leads to some interesting projects on campus.

However, this should never continue to the extent of metamorphosing these groups into mini-fraternities and sororities. Groups that claim to promote social and cultural awareness on campus should not simply cater to one primary demographic, which can be the case when a club does not do enough to recruit a diverse membership.

Granted, a group that is organized for the promotion of the cultural awareness of extraterrestrials, for instance, would need a substantial number of extraterrestrials as founding members. But the club should always strive to welcome members who are not part of this social group, but are interested in learning about its culture.

I applaud efforts to introduce issues and topics that are not always addressed in the mainstream community. This is a unique opportunity to have a community well versed in a diverse set of social issues, thus creating a more tolerant and understanding atmosphere.

Therefore, I implore the cultural awareness organizations on this campus to continue to endeavor towards diverse memberships and I encourage the campus community – including myself – to explore these groups and the issues they promote.

Figueredo can be reached at ofigueredo@campustimes.org.

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