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Finding a home away from home

For a Spanish translation, click here.

The most unfulfilling years of my college career were when I was just a bystander. I attended classes and got out before professors could utter what the homework was. I went to work my full-time job to pay for the schooling I wasn’t an active participant in.

Weber State University has a collection of students like this. Because of financial, family or personal circumstances, these students only ever see classrooms on this campus.

However, joining clubs and organizations creates the college experience. These are the places you meet like-minded people, create memories, learn new skills and get involved with programming that can impact the community.

Despite the benefits, I understand it is a privilege to have the time, energy or financial stability to be a member of these organizations. I lived it. But it is through this involvement that I built relationships, skills and found my voice and sense of self.

Black Scholars United is the home away from home for some of WSU’s black students. This year, BSU, in conjunction with the Engaged Learning Series, brought Ron Stallworth to WSU. Stallworth was a 20-year Utah narcotics and liquor enforcement investigator and subject of the Spike Lee film “BlacKkKlansman.”

Recently celebrating the BSU 50th Anniversary, past members mingled with current members. Byron Warfield-Graham, BSU founding member, continues to be involved with the organization, funding an essay contest and other scholarships.

Betty Sawyer, advisor of BSU, says the strength of the organization is the bond the students create among each other.

“They are that home away from home for other African-American students,” Sawyer said. “Being at a predominantly white institution, you can look around all day trying to find someone who looks like yourself, and that’s pretty scary.”

The Asian Student Involvement Association provides a space for students interested in Asian culture to unite. The organization represents the interests of WSU’s Asian students to the Weber State University Student Association.

The American Indian Council, in conjunction with KWCR, hosts the “Indigenous Voices Hour” radio show. Students discuss subjects pertaining to the Native American community and shares music made by indigenous people.

The AIC hosts the Native Symposium, a celebration and educational experience about Native American culture during the month of November.

Creating an awareness of Hispanic and Latinx cultures, the Hispanic Area Council present hosts events during Hispanic Heritage Month, sharing stories of Hispanic idols, trailblazers and history.

BSU, ASIA, AIC and the Hispanic Area Council all encourage community service, academic success and individual excellence through leadership opportunities. These clubs emphasize the importance of being involved within the community.

Building community and educating WSU and the Ogden community about the issues affecting women, the Women’s Center has brought programming that encourages action in supporting equality.

The Women’s Center key events, LunaFest and Take Back the Night, shine a light on sexual violence and empowering women. Additionally, the Women’s Center offers Safe@Weber violence prevention and advocacy services, including online courses and workshops.

4-3 Resources (Kelly Watkins) (3 of 5).jpg
(Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

The LGBT Resource Center provides educational opportunities that enhance the growth of the community, their family, friends and allies. The center celebrates individuals in their entirety and creates a welcoming and safe environment for all, according to center coordinator Jayson Stokes.

“Sometimes people have the misconception that they don’t identify as LGBT then they can’t come to the events, but they can,” said Stokes. “The resource center doesn’t just serve students who identify as LGBT. We serve all of our students.”

These clubs and others help students find their identities, voices and help develop interests and skills that benefit their future.

I have seen, through friends and my own experiences, what being involved can do to self-esteem, sense of self and overall happiness. These clubs are opportunities to immerse yourself in things that matter to you.

I had no sense of school pride, had fewer friends and was just waiting to graduate so I could finally start doing things that matter to me. Since joining organizations, I feel a sense of camaraderie and that I’m working toward something.

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